Snow storm victims deprived of foreign relief

According to a new arrival from Kyekudo (Chinese:Yushul) in Kham region, now incorporated into the Chinese province of Qinghai, Tibetans in Jyekudo and nearby Serchul Dzong were deprived of foreign relief funds meant for the region following massive snow storms.

Since October 1995 the Kham region has been hit by a series of severe snowstorms. Foreign monetary funds which were initially sent to the region to be distributed among the victims of the massive snowstorms were appropriated by Chinese officials who explained that the funds would be used to buy cattle for the people.

Individuals were told that they could keep their share of the money provided they repay double the amount in three years time. No one was willing to keep the funds under such conditions.

Our source reported that every day television announcements would be made about people receiving vast amounts of monetary aid but in reality they received none of this. Only food and clothing provided by foreign donors actually reached the victims.

The people were told that the Chinese authorities would provide a loan of 60% to each family to buy cattle and 40% would have to be arranged by themselves. However, the majority of the people could not afford this loan due to prohibitively high interest rates.

Despite the heavy loss suffered by the people of Jyekudo due to the snowstorm, our source reports that Chinese officials visited every house in the region and collected the usual tax from the people.

In Sherdul District, those people affected by the snowstorm received only 15 Juan (U.S. $1.50 cents) as monetary relief. The large amount of funds donated to the district by Western groups was used instead to build two two-storey buildings to house Chinese Government officials residing in the area.

News reports indicate that during the snowstorms an estimated 700,000 cattle froze to death in the Jyekudo area, 16,000 people suffered from frostbite and 9,000 people suffered from snow-blindness as temperatures dropped to minus 42 degrees Celsius.

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