Stealing relief is inexcusable

88

Stealing relief is committing a crime against the teeming millions who are poor and destitute in this country

Almost as soon as the government started giving out relief to those hit the hardest in the coronavirus pandemic, we started getting reports about relief supplies being stolen by influential and connected parties.

Weeks since the lockdown began, this unconscionable act continues unabated, with reports of relief theft coming in from all over the country. Busts have been made in Gaibandha, Barisal, Chittagong, Gopalganj, and Sirajganj over stolen bags of rice: All of these are supplies that should be feeding the poorest of the poor, and instead are being used to someone’s pocket.

Clearly, in many instances, greed is proving to be a much stronger force than humanity.

But as a nation, Bangladesh needs to do better. As a poor country, we are vulnerable to the Covid-19 pandemic in ways that are not applicable to the developed nations of Western Europe, North America, or Australia. For one, many low-income Bangladeshis do not have the luxury of hunkering down at home to ride out the pandemic.

This is because their lives are literally dependent upon their earnings of the day. For such people, this pandemic is catastrophic not merely because of the risk of infection, but also because their families now face the risk of starvation.

It is then, the solemn obligation of the government to ensure not only that relief is allocated to the poor, but also that relief actually goes to the intended destination.

Stealing relief is committing a crime against the teeming millions who are poor and destitute in this country. Let us not stoop so low.