Thursday, January 25, 2007

British Red Cross pulls out of Kolhufushi

British Red Cross has pulled out of Kolhufushi island in Meemu Atoll, after the government and the people of the island failed to come to an agreement over the location of the houses to be built in the tsunami-ravaged island of Maldives, reports Minivan News.

The decision was taken on January 16, and a statement released to Minivan five days later said it had “not been taken lightly.” Funds totalling $3.7m will now be reallocated to other Red Cross projects and the statement says options for where the money is reallocated are currently under discussion with the government.

Earlier in January frustrated protestors blockaded the Island Office in Kolhufushi. Will Jordan from Minivan News visited the island during the peak of the protest and reports his findings.

Apart from the fortunate few whose homes were left more or less intact, everybody on Kolhufushi still lives in temporary shelters. Instead of the bright and spacious homes they have been promised, each family crams into a room no bigger than ten feet by eight. “It’s terrible now. I don’t know what to say…It’s worse than like a jail,” says Hassan Zareer.

The makeshift villages are a sad sight. Single mattresses are propped up against the walls in the tiny terraced rooms. If they are laid flat, they fill half the floor space of a room for five people. The walls are thin partitions which do not reach the ceiling. Privacy is not an option.

Outside, pots and pans balance precariously on tables in the sun and clothes hang on lines. There is no room to store them inside.


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