PETALING JAYA, June 19 — The remaining displaced flood victims in Kelantan, numbering 48 families, have refused relocation and chosen to stick to the weather-proof Shelterbox tents until the promised permanent houses are completed.
The secretary of the National Security Council (NSC) in Kelantan, Azhar Mohd Yusof, said out of 97 families provided with Shelterbox, only half had agreed to be temporarily relocated to the National Service Training Programme (PLKN) camp.
While some are genuinely in dire need of proper shelter and have no other alternatives, Azhar said, there were certain families who had abused the temporary provision to garner sympathy from charity groups.
“Some of them have other places to go, but they would come back (to the Shelterbox) during the day in hopes they would get the sympathy of NGOs who came to help out,” he said yesterday.
“There are also those who do not want to leave the tents because they feel they would be cut off from the humanitarian aid they are receiving.”
Another reason cited by some families for staying put was that the NS camp was too far from their workplace or children’s schools.
On this issue, Azhar said transportation was provided for those who required it.
“The camp serves as a better temporary shelter as it is more comfortable, and we have also provided partitions for the family to have their own space,” he said.
“But some of them feel it lacks freedom of movement and privacy.”
He said families who were earning from cooking at nearby canteens refused to move because they were only allowed to cook for personal consumption at the camp.
“It is not that we neglected them, but we are trying our best to persuade them to relocate to a comfortable temporary shelter,” he said.
“Right now, what we can do is speed up the construction of the permanent homes, so we can house these remaining families as soon as possible.”
Mercy Malaysia president Datuk Dr Ahmad Faizal Perdaus said it was unfortunate some of the families were still living in an unhealthy state after six months.
“However, it is understandable the process of constructing permanent homes takes a long time as it involves constructing physical structures as well as resolving land ownership and relocation issues,” he said.
“Mercy has identified the victims who desperately need shelter. Therefore, as part of the early recovery phase, we have provided over 200 temporary homes.
“However, what the focus should be now is relocating to permanent homes as transit homes would require more funding and only last for two years.”
Dr Ahmad Faizal said as the living conditions in tents were poor, the state government should move the victims to other locations as a temporary measure while the houses were being completed.
He said if a similar flood disaster occured again, the government should consider providing temporary homes that could withstand normal weather while waiting for the completion of the permanent homes.
Malaysian Red Crescent Society secretary-general Datuk Sayed A. Rahman Sayed Mohamad said the group had also begun building temporary homes for 48 families in nine villages in Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu.
He said 27 had been completed to house those in dire need of proper shelter.
He said that six months after the flood had subsided, there should no longer be any flood victims still living in tents.
“In the areas which we have adopted, the flood victims are no longer living in tents while waiting for their permanent homes to be completed,” he said.
“Though it is understandable that permanent homes take longer process to construct, the families should no longer be living in tents, as the living condition there is poor.”
Apart from building temporary shelter, Sayed A. Rahman said, the group had provided sustainable water and medical supports as well as the Disaster Reduction Reach programme in which each household receives RM2,000 cash donations.
“The humanitarian aid is ongoing from March up to December,” he said.
Last Friday, the federal government said 133 units of new permanent houses would be handed over to the flood victims before the Aildilfitri celebration.
As of June 12, 546 units are under construction and 34 units have been completed. The government is committed to build a total of 1,415 units for flood victims nationwide.