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From the Field
Relief Workers' Report

UNITED SIKHS, an international non-profit human development NGO, is currently working to provide humanitarian aid to victims of the Asian tsunami disaster. Current UNITED SIKHS projects include relief efforts in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nicobar Islands, South India, and Aceh, Indonesia.

Great Nicobar Status Report 1
(Jan 15)
By Esher Singh, Project Leader, UNITED SIKHS GHANAIA Tsunami Relief in South India

There is a problem on Great Nicobar island with regard to rations and daily amenities. The official in charge is unable to handle the situation. He has to sign ration cards for the Tsunami victims every three days. This is a bureaucratic nightmare because he moves around for his inspection duties. There should be more officials authorised to sign the ration cards. Ordinarily, 22 tons of wheat and 45 tons of rice are consumed per month. There is more than this amount in the locked godown but it is not being distributed. Until recently, butter, milk powder, fruit, jam was distributed but that has not happened for the last 6 days. Soon there will be unrest amongst the locals if the situation does not improve.

The Sikh sangat in the relief camp area has nothing to do except wait for their lunch, dinner and bedtime. There are no Gurdwara programs held. We are trying to start them immediately. There are no proper durries, musical instruments, amplifiers, microphones in the darbar sahib.

The students who are affected in this area feel that the govt should provide them with professional courses i.e. admission for engineering and medical science courses, as it is very difficult for them to move out for further studies as they have lost everything.

The Community is dual-minded whether the should leave the Island or stay. The people who are leaving or have left, have not received any compensation. This is inhuman for the victims. There are few people who want to remain on the island but many are insisting on leaving the island. They have lost their property, official papers, educational documents and other movables and immovables. They need legal help to sort out their claims on property ownership as they have lost all their ownership documents.

UNITED SIKHS will set up a small office to deal with the problems of these people and to coordinate a response. The administration insists that people should advertise their lost documents in the newspapers before they can make a First Incident Report (FIR). This is a very unreasonable and unfair request.

We need to procure utensils to make langar so that we may set up different langar centres. I have arranged for the distribution of langar with supplies obtained from the army stores with the help of the Governor of Tamil Nadu, Surjit Singh Barnala and Governor of Port Blair.

There are many subjects to be dealt with, for which UNITED SIKHS need sot send more volunteers to the island. Serious consideration should be given to the problem of procurement and distribution of ration before April as then due to climatic conditions the island will be cut off from the mainland for 6 months.

Ships are not arriving on this island because the jetty is damaged and unsafe. Airplanes to Great Nicobar can only carry a limit of 2 tonnes per flight.

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