Vietnam province splits flood donations, angers public

By Hoang Tao   October 25, 2016 | 08:15 pm PT
Vietnam province splits flood donations, angers public
A hut of a family affected by the severe flooding in Quang Binh Province in mid-October. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Tao
Households affected by flooding have been forced to hand over donations they had received to have them divided equally among all villagers.

Government officials in the central province of Quang Binh have stirred up public anger by taking back money that poor locals have received from philanthropists in the wake of recent floods.

A 78-year-old woman who lives alone in a small hut received VND2 million ($90) from a charity group in the province on Saturday.

Her house in Tan Dong Village in Quang Hai Commune is still isolated a week after torrential rains triggered by a tropical depression brought water levels up to the roofs of thousands of houses in the province.

She was among those affected the most due to close proximity to the raging Gianh River.

The philanthropists visited her home based on a list provided by the local government.

But a village official also visited her that night and asked her to hand the money over.

“The official said that the whole village was flooded and everyone had lost something, so anyone who received help should share it,” she said.

A family of five in the commune also had to give back a VND1 million donation.

“The donors gave us that money after seeing that all our clothes were gone and all our rice was damaged by the floods,” the mother said.

The collected money has been split into VND60,000 per person, so her family now has only VND300,000 ($13).

In Trung Thon Village in the same commune, 40 families listed to receive donations of VND500,000 ($22) each from Ho Chi Minh City were later asked to give back VND400,000.

Some families said they refused but they were told that they would be blacklisted for future donations.

Le Van Luan, deputy head of the village, said he just wanted to share the money with other families who were experiencing difficulties in the area.

Cao Xuan Ngoc, chairman of Quang Hai Commune, said he is looking into the situation and will order the village officials to give back the money.

“Donations granted to any family should be kept by that family,” Ngoc said.

Nguyen Tran Quang, a spokesman for Quang Binh Province, said the authorities will make sure the problem does not happen again.

Quang also guaranteed that the officials were merely sharing the money out between people in the area and had not pocketed any of it.

A low tropical pressure system made landfall in Quang Binh on October 13, bringing torrential rains of up to 700mm in what was described by many as one the worst disasters to ever hit the province, which is among the poorest in Vietnam.

The floods submerged 27,000 houses in the province and killed at least 22 people. Neighboring Ha Tinh Province also reported nine deaths and 5,000 flooded houses.

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