Almost $14, 000-worth of donations to drought victims in central Colombia are idling in a coastal port due to a bureaucratic hold-up, reported a local newspaper on Monday.
According to newspaper El Heraldo, the donated merchandise could soon be lost to theft or mismanagement if if the Presidential Agency for International Cooperation of Colombia (APC) does not authorize its entry.
The shipment in question comes from Canadian Projects RSP to the Amadrinando Dreams foundation, based out of the eastern Colombian state of Casanare, where over 20,000 animals have perished in recent weeks due to acute water shortages. Some 954 containers of supplies are now stuck in the Barranquilla port, intended to reach inhabitants of Casanare who are in a state of emergency due to extreme draught.
Eulises Rincon Castillo, external advisor to Amadrinando Dreams, created in Yopal in 2012, told the newspaper that “if APC does not release in writing the nationalization of merchandise at the port of Barranquilla before April 18, donations could fall into the wrong hands.”
“They are now subject to the solidarity or the negligence of the Colombian State,” Rincon said, adding that he does not understand the actions of the Colombian agencies, after a frustrating series of phone conversations with the government entity.
Silvia Margarita Carrizosa, Administrative and Financial Director of APC, denied any responsibility for the donation, and in a letter drafted on April 2 stated that “the donation was not managed or accepted by the Presidential Agency for Cooperation, and we therefore do not assume any obligation or liability to the original donor, or any local beneficiary.”
The offer letter from Project RSP to APC on March 8, 2014 , states “Project RSP would like to offer a donation to the Presidential Agency for International Cooperation of Colombia, APC, a container with 684 boxes containing used household materials in good condition, and 270 large objects .”
The letter of responsibility from a member of Project RSP is clear in stating that “I, Sarah Greiner … and Project RSP authorize APC to carry out directly or through a third party, before or after shipment the overhaul of the contents of the boxes and other material in the donation is made. I certify that the contents of this charge does not contain any hazardous, or illegal material that may endanger human health … and declare that the goods delivered are from lawful activities in accordance with Colombian law. ”
The donations are intended for schools, children and residents of Hato Corozal (10,091 inhabitants) and Paz de Ariporo (33,446 inhabitants) in Casanare, and include shoes, dishes, school materials, toys, clothing, medical equipment, bicycles, sewing materials, tools, and household goods. The foundation has committed to helping these communities after witnessing consequences of the draught and neglect by the Colombian state.