A Sri Lankan lawyers’ association assisting the rehabilitation of tsunami-affected children charged last week that a huge amount of funds donated by a generous British public was still lying unused in UK banks.
The allegation was made by barrister Lalith de Kauwe, chairman of the Association of Sri Lankan Lawyers in the UK (ASLLUK) Tsunami Appeal during a fund raising ceremony at the Garden Court Chambers in the prestigious Lincoln’s Inn in London, to mark the first anniversary of the tragic event.
While thanking the British public for its generosity in donating over £400 million for the tsunami-affected countries, de Kauwe said it was not only surprising but also unacceptable that something like two-thirds was still lying in UK banks.
He said it is a scandal that this money is lying idle one year after the tsunami, while people who suffered from the devastation, especially children, were still in need of shelter, education and counselling after the trauma of an unprecedented tragedy.
Barrister de Kauwe was particularly harsh on bureaucrats of British charities who preferred to spend their time travelling around in high-powered vehicles and living in the comfort of star-class hotels in Sri Lanka wasting “enormous amounts of money raised by the British public while the victims of the tsunami were in great need one year after the horrifying experience”.
Speaking last week at a well-attended gathering that included many UK well-wishers and donors, Lalith de Kauwe said, “What an appalling state of affairs that the 13 big charities that were given 1/3 of that £400 million claimed to be unable to help anyone else as they had already allocated their funds for this year. What pathetic excuses.”
The ASLLUK has been particularly concerned about the children left parentless or homeless after the December tsunami and has donated funds to at least three charitable institutions in Sri Lanka.
The association has donated £3,600 for the upkeep of 10 children at St Mary’s Convent, Matara and is hoping to support 10 more kids for the next 10 years if funds are raised. This convent cares for children without considerations of race, religion or creed, de Kauwe said.
It has provided £1000 to the Prithipura Infant Home in Wattala and another £1000 to the Senthalir Project in Udayarkuddu in the North-East. The ASLLUK has thus disbursed its funds to affected areas and institutions irrespective of ethnic or religious differences because it believes that all those who were affected needed assistance and deserve to be helped.
In this respect the association welcomed President Mahinda Rajapakse’s recent speech in which he pledged to accelerate reconstruction in the north and east as well as the other coastal belt areas that were devastated.