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Ten tonnes of Nepal aid stuck in church's barn

12 June 2015

SAM ATKINS

"Concerned": Jim Wilkinson, in his barn on Hollybush Farm. It is filled with donations collected for the survivors of the earthquake in Nepal

"Concerned": Jim Wilkinson, in his barn on Hollybush Farm. It is filled with donations collected for the survivors of the earthquake in Nepal

TEN tonnes of clothes, sleeping bags, tents, and blankets destined for the survivors of the Nepal earthquake have been stuck in a church barn for more than a month because the Gurkhas who donated the aid cannot afford to get it into Nepal.

The mountain of supplies was bought with money collected from British Army Gurkhas, originally from Nepal, at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire. It was temporarily stored in a barn in Hollybush Farm near by, which is also home to Hollybush Christian Fellowship, an independent church.

But Jim Wilkinson, who owns the farm and leads the church, said that the organisers discovered that they would have to pay a tax of 30 per cent to get the aid into Nepal, which would amount to thousands of pounds for every tonne of goods.

As they were enable to afford such a sum, the supplies have now languished in Mr Wilkinson's barn for more than a month. "My friend said, 'Can we drop it off at your place and pick it up on Monday?'" Mr Wilkinson said on Monday. "That was now a month ago. I'm just the piggy in the middle."

While Mr Wilkinson has been able to store the aid for a week or two, he will soon need the space that it takes up, because it is almost time to start making hay on the farm.

"I'm sad for them because I know by the quality of the goods that are in there that [the Gurkhas] have emptied their pockets. It's disappointing as I'm just trying to do a good deed.

"I'm more concerned for those dear people [the Gurkhas] who have given all this stuff . . . all new stuff out of their pockets, and it's still only got 20 miles from where it started."

An unnamed organiser who spoke to the newspaper The Northern Echo said that the Gurkhas were determined to send supplies, not cash, to Nepal, because they did not trust the Nepalese authorities to spend it honestly.

Last year, the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International ranked Nepal as 126th out of 175 in their corruption index.

Emails and phone calls to the Nepalese Embassy went unanswered, but a spokesman previously told The Northern Echo that the taxes on humanitarian relief ranged from 15 to 30 per cent, and were introduced because the Government wanted to co-ordinate aid and prevent duplication. 

Anyone who could help to get the mound of supplies to Nepal should contact him, Mr Wilkinson said.

hbcfoffice@gmail.com 

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