KARACHI: Internally displaced persons (IDPS) staying at a government college in the SITE area have complained about the supply of unhygienic food, which is causing health problems for flood survivors. A relief camp providing food, shelter and medical care to about 3,700 IDPs was established at the college two weeks ago.
“We were being provided good quality food until Saturday, but for the past few days our food has been watery and foul-smelling,” said Laloo Sheikh from Garhi Khairo in Jacobabad district. The camp is being supervised by the management of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce, which provides two meals a day to the survivors. The DDO Revenue of Orangi town Rafaqat Ali, who said that the food provider was changed four days ago, claims not to have heard any complaints about its quality.
While the DDO was speaking to The Express Tribune, a group of IDPs shouted slogans against the authorities running the camp. When questioned about this, the DDO said that food provision was the responsibility of the chamber of commerce. He also blamed government officials and a lack of discipline among the IDPs for creating circumstances in which it was difficult to provide relief in a just manner. The DDO believed that visits from high-profile ministers disrupt the daily operations of the camp, as these officials tend to hand out food without an efficient system for doing so.
Several IDPs complained that the distribution of food items was inequitable and based on personal favours. They also said that they were still waiting for essentials such as milk, tea and cash that had been promised to them but never distributed. Meanwhile, concerned parents complained that their children were only provided food late in the evening when the adults were offered a meal to open their fast.
DDO Revenue Zulfikar Abbassi, who is in charge of monitoring the morning shift at the camp, said that IDPs had unlimited demands and their accusations were baseless. “We give them everything and still they cry for more,” he remarked.
The camp was clean and appeared to provide basic facilities to survivors. The Express Tribune contacted the president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Majeed Haji Muhammed, for further details about where the food served at the camp comes from. President KCCI said that Banoria restaurant had a contract with the organisation for food provision, and he was glad to be informed about complaints regarding its quality so that the issue can be corrected.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2010.
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