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
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.