Monday, November 24, 2008
INGO crows pecking at sovereignty - Island Editorial
The 'victim industry' was triggered with alarm lately when defence.lk turned-on the spot lights on some unholy LTTE - INGO affiliations in the non-liberated regions, as considerable evidences surfaced providing petroleum for sensible doubts following the rush of counter-terrorist operations by the military into these distant regions after many years. According to evidences and stories unraveled, the human pain has only well-known into great levels, amidst the area been busy by various INGOs and NGO for decades.
The Island Editorial on Monday(Nov 24), providing precious insights into the 'victim industry' and its bogus 'saviors of peace' , questions the mode of operandi and answerability of such organizations with the circulation of billions of dollars under their bellies. "They poured billions of rupees and enthused hundreds of vehicles into those areas claiming to improve the people's lot. But, where has all the money gone? Dirt tracks and tumbled down buildings stand indication to the fact that INGO and NGO funds did reach anywhere but the grassroots. The billion rupees question is: What were the commendable members of the victim manufacturing doing in that terrain for so long busting so much of money?", the leader questions.
"INGOs and their local lackeys needy on crumbs from the table favor to function in the LTTE held terrain, as behind the so-called iron curtain they don't have to be nervous about accountability etc. Donors have no way of monitoring growth of the projects they fund in the uncleared areas and therefore have to settle for the doctored reports that INGO/NGO bosses file. The LTTE tolerate INGOs/NGOs in areas under its jackboot so long as they toe its line and fraction with its share of the money and materials," the leader further sates.
Full text of the Island Editorial, on 24th November, 2008.
Protests from the whole caboodle of INGOs and NGOs against the Vanni disagreeable and the government's order that they shift to Vavuniya stemmed more from a fear of being bare for their filthy operations than from a genuine anxiety for civilians. Now that more and more areas where many INGOs had been in service for about two decades are being cleared, derogatory proof is developing that they had done valuable little for people. They poured billions of rupees and enthused hundreds of vehicles into those areas claiming to get better the people's lot. But, where has all the money gone? Dirt tracks and tumbled down buildings bear sign to the fact that INGO and NGO funds did reach wherever but the grassroots. The billion rupees question is: What were the worthy members of the injured party industry doing in that terrain for so long busting so much of money?
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has asked the captains of the victim industry to explain what they had been doing in the Vanni before their recent exit. He has suggested that those clothes, save the UN agencies and the ICRC, be terrified out of the country. One may agree with him but let no effort be made to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The need is felt more than ever for an effective narrow device to deal with the caring organisations and ensure the clearness of their operations.
INGOs and NGOs, as their godfather in Sri Lanka Kumar Rupasinghe once admitted in a television interview, are not unpaid organisations. They have all the trappings of confidential companies the only difference being that they are non profit ventures, whose financiers do not wait for go backs for their 'investment' in monetary terms. However, they are not devoid of hidden agendas, political or otherwise. Most of them have twist out to be proxies of foreign governments or some organisations.
As much as transnational companies use the global poor, the humanitarian industry exploits the human disaster. How lucrative a business it has become could be seen from the remuneration and perquisite packages of the INGO/NGO workers. In this country, a peace NGO boss has confessed he draws more than one million rupees per month besides perks. With the money spent on that man, it may be argued, an entire village in the conflict zone could be fed for one month! But who cares? What has been his contribution to peace building? Nothing! The same goes for other INGOs and NGOs whose bosses and functionaries shower on themselves huge sums of money by way of salaries for doing just nothing to promote the causes they publicly take up. All that they have to do to prove their existence to their donors is to hire a few people, hold an infrequent protest in the refuge of the city with the help of some media hirelings and submit paper cuttings and video clippings. It looks as if the INGO involvement in Sri Lanka's conflict has known rise to a city based nouveau riche.
INGOs and their local lackeys dependent on crumbs from the table favor to function in the LTTE held terrain, as behind the so-called iron curtain they don't have to worry about answerability etc. Donors have no way of monitoring progress of the projects they fund in the uncleared areas and therefore have to settle for the doctored reports that INGO/NGO bosses file. The LTTE tolerate INGOs/NGOs in areas under its jackboot so long as they toe its line and part with its share of the money and materials. That was how all the building materials-cement, roofing sheets and steel-ended up in the hands of the LTTTE, as could be seen from a large number of unbreakable bunkers detected by the advancing troops in the Vanni. Large stocks of relief items such as food and even life jackets have also been found in LTTE camps.
We don't want to hear from INGO/NGO bosses that they finished their funds on food, education and health care in the LTTE-held areas. For, consecutive governments, whatever their other faults may be, have always looked after those needs of civilians in the uncleared areas. The State is even paying the salaries of public servants the LTTE has forcibly recruited to fight the army! There may be a handful of genuine INGOs/NGOs which did not cheat funds but they, too, have dishonored their image due to their association with the Coffee Club types who have brought the civil society organisations into disgrace.
On the eve of the last SAARC peak in Colombo in August, when the global media notice was on Sri Lanka, the World Food Programme issued a communiqu‚ claiming that about 30 per cent of Sri Lankan families went without food for more than a few days. The world would have fallen for that tale hook, line and sinker but for a opportune rebuttal from the Sri Lankan government confident by a news item in this newspaper on the WFP statement. That is how INGOs make humanitarian situations fit their advertising agenda from side to side media hypes. At least ten INGOs from the EU countries left from Sri Lanka having pledged to build tsunami houses and raised funds for that purpose. Some INGOs are working overtime to get ready the ground for R2P by likening the situation in the Vanni to that in Darfur! TRO was raising funds for the LTTE's war on the pretext of rehabilitation and resettlement.
Some local NGO chiefs are committing a grave crime against Mahatma Gandhi posthumously. They are worse than Godse, who snuffed out the great leader's priceless life. They are trying to project themselves as Mahatma Gandhis of Sri Lanka! We are being treated to various gimmicks including expensive advertising campaigns meant at inspiring them to the same pedestal as Gandhiji. We urge those cardboard Gandhi's to read Gandhi's memoirs-at least the few paragraphs thereof devoted to the handling of public funds-before making a sight of themselves. Gandhiji was a volunteer devoted to a noble cause and he desisted from handling funds because of their corrupting power. But, our copy Gandhis are lining their pockets with funds under their care. They move about in luxury vehicles sporting thick gold chains hugging their rich navels! Whom are they trying to fool? How can asses aspire to be thoroughbred horses?
Besides the embezzlement of funds and the espousal of dubious causes, some INGOs have been trying their hand at forming similar governments in the Global South. Sri Lanka is one of the few countries where any outfit can land and hang out shingle with no questions asked. While the terrorists are beating a quick retreat in the Vanni, INGOs and their local allies are laying siege to the State. Some of them are all out to award pariah rank on Sri Lanka and strip it of the GSP Plus concession. It is not only from radical groups that ruler states have come under threats; INGOs have also proved they are able of gnawing away at national dominion.
It is high time Sri Lanka devised ways and means of controlling INGOs and NGOs overstepping their limits-short of a witch-hunt, of course. A Parliamentary Select Committee was set up amidst show to probe INGOs/NGOs sometime ago. When will it come to an end its probe and make recommendations? Time is running out!
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