14 April 2007
New huts built for displaced Madifurhi islanders
On Boxing Day 2004, the people
of Madifurhi Island in Mulak Atoll (not to be confused with the
island of the same name in Kolhumadulu Atoll) in the Maldives had
their homes, livelihoods and island completely destroyed by the
Andaman Tsunami, the most devastating natural disaster to hit Asia
in living memory. The Madifurhi islanders who survived the disaster
were relocated to Maamigili, an inhabited island that was unaffected
by the tsunami.
Now the relocated islanders are facing a plight worse than the tsunami
itself, as resentment of the host community turns very ugly. Maamigili
has always been a relatively prosperous community. It is the family
home of the Maldive finance minister, central bank governor and,
reputedly, the richest man in the Maldives- Ari Atholhu Maamigili Burumaa Ibrahimuge Gasim.
He is a generous philanthropist in his own right, who has a heart
of gold. The Madifurhi people's host islanders on Maamigili are
Mr Gasim's kith and kin. They are resentful of the new huts and
donor-aid money received by the displaced islanders from Madifurhi.
Ari Atholhu Maamigili Burumaa Ibrahimuge Gasim, Maldive
finance minister, central bank governor and best-known Maamigili
islander. His fellow islanders are extremely uncharitable
towards internally displaced tsunami victims
Abdul Mateen, a community leader
of the ex-Madifurhi islanders and senior government official on
Maamigili said, “We are trapped in our homes without being
able to go out. We are being threatened that our lives will be in
danger if we venture out.” The ex-Madifurhi islanders have
been dragged out of their workplaces by their hosts and chased home.
Mr Mateen said that his community is at a loss to find a solution
to the hostility of the native Maamigili islanders. He said that
often up to 300 people, including a large number of women and school
children, gather around their homes and throw stones on their roofs.
They are unable to go out, even to buy essential supplies.
Many people here in the West gave up even their children’s
toys to help those who were displaced by the tsunami. Financial
and material aid poured in from the West as soon as the tsunami
struck. The Red Cross, the Red Star of David, Caritas, World Vision,
Friends of Maldives and others rallied to the aid of the Maldives
and other countries affected by the tsunami. Private individuals
in New Zealand, the UK, Australia, Europe, the United States, Canada
and Israel donated extremely generously. Several people were offered
temporary and permanent resettlement in some of these countries
following the tsunami. Given this, the despicable and heartless
attitude shown by the Maldivians on Maamigili Island towards their
fellow Maldivians is shocking to say the least.
The Maldive “democracy” movement appears to be silent
on the current plight of the Madifurhi islanders. The story does
not appear in the British-based Dhivehi Observer which
is the main mouthpiece of the Maldive opposition. Minivan News
covered the story. We have sourced most of the material in this
article from Haveeru Online, which is usually accused by
the opposition of being biased in favour of the Maldive government.
Dharuma Saraka Budhu
of the Charity Wheel
Late in March 2005, a European
parliamentary delegation visited the displaced people of Madifurhi
on Maamigili. The delegation was led by Mrs Neena Gill (UK) and
included five other Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). They
were Mr Jan Mulder (Netherlands), Mr Jo Leinen (Germany), Mr Thomas
Mann (Germany), Mrs Jean Lambert (UK) and Mr Ivo Belet (Belgium).
The gross lack of charity shown by Maldivians towards their brethren
in distress is a clear indictment of the ideology that is currently
foisted on these islanders. Historically Maldivians subscribed to
an ancient, Buddhist-based, charitable philosophy known in the local
language as dharuma. The indigenous dharuma-vantha
nature of Maldivians appears to be gone now.
Toll wreaked by the Boxing Day Tsunami on Madifurhi island