NGOs unhappy over new rules for food aid distribution

THE directive by the government that food aid will only be distributed through the Welfare Department (JKM) has caught many non-governmental organisations (NGO) by surprise.

These Good Samaritans have been intensifying efforts to help the needy, many of whom are daily wage earners who have no source of income after the movement control order (MCO) came into effect on March 18.

To help reduce movement and curb the spread of Covid-19, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had said that food should be delivered to centres set up by JKM and distributed only by army and Rela personnel.

Refuge for Refugees (RFR) co-founder Heidy Quah is worried that the new directive would prevent her organisation from rendering aid to target communities.

“We focus on helping migrants and refugees, some of whom are undocumented.

“We are concerned that JKM will not be able to identify these people in order to channel aid to them.”

Quah said RFR would explore working with Red Crescent Society to ensure its aid reached intended recipients.

Insaf Malaysia founder and president Ishak Abdul Kadir said the government should have consulted NGOs before issuing a blanket directive barring them from giving aid directly.

“We are worried that those who really need help may not get it if distribution is handled by JKM which does not have complete data on recipients, ” said Ishak.

He expressed concern that some of the orphanages that Insaf work with would be left out of the distribution channel as they were not registered with JKM.

Onn Jaafar Institute (IOJ) chief executive officer Charles Mohan said since the MCO came into effect, it only delivers food to a shelter for the homeless.

“We no longer distribute food to residents because of the need for social distancing, ” he said.

“The facility is registered with JKM so we are not worried that our donation would not reach the intended recipients.”

Tenaganita community mobiliser Hasnah Hussin was concerned that JKM did not have sufficient manpower.

“If we are allowed to distribute the food, it would reduce their workload.

“NGOs are already taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, ” she said.

StarMetro’s cover story on organisations distributing food to vulnerable groups in the Klang Valley which was published on March 28.StarMetro’s cover story on organisations distributing food to vulnerable groups in the Klang Valley which was published on March 28.

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