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Graft blocks relief fund flow

world Updated: Dec 26, 2007 00:57 IST

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Graft and renewed fighting has blocked relief to Sri Lanka’s tsunami survivors with less than a fifth of the money reaching its intended destination, say watchdogs.

“I don’t know where the aid money was spent, but we are still living in this wooden house,” said Nalini de Soysa, 53.

Some 31,000 people died and 1 million were left homeless after the 2004 tsunami. Sri Lanka said it got $3.2 billion in foreign aid pledges to rebuild the devastated coastlines. But only $1.2 billion was actually received, the government says.

From that only $634 million — less than 20 per cent of the original amount pledged — was spent by the end of November, according to Transparency International, an international watchdog on corruption.

“It has been virtually impossible to find out what happened to the cash,” said Rukshana Nanayakkara, Lanka’s deputy executive director of the organisation.