Coronavirus in KuwaitKuwait

Food distributions in Mahboula, Jleeb too disorganized, too little

KUWAIT: Police try to control a large crowd of people in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh at a food distribution point in the locked down area. – Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: The distribution of food and relief goods for people under complete lockdown in both Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh and Mahboula is disorganized, with crowds of people trying to get their share in a chaotic manner. “Our problem here is that some people can only get food if they fight for it; if they don’t, they will not get anything. The only way to get your share is to push and shove other people. There is no queue, with people fighting each other. We want to avoid the spread of coronavirus and social distancing must be followed, but look at how they are implementing the distribution of food,” said Eyas, an Indian resident of Mahboula.

“It is as if we are animals here to be given chunks of food. We all want to eat, but I think the people in charge of distributing the food must be creative to avoid the spread of the virus, and so that people can get their share fairly and not just a few who fought for it,” said Eyas. “Our situation here in Mahboula is really grim. Many of us here live in ‘camps’.

We are not getting salaries, so we have no money – not even a few fils to buy some food from the baqala. Yet the people in charge of giving us food are not managing it correctly for the people of Mahboula. We have run out of cash and are now relying on government distribution of food so we can eat, but we have to fight for it,” he lamented.

Some residents in the area are not relying on the limited food aid by the Kuwaiti government, especially Filipinos, whose embassy is providing food packets to its nationals in locked down areas. “Filipinos here are getting support from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, courtesy of our embassy. It started even before the lockdown – we got some supplies from private individuals, but since the lockdown was implemented, the Philippine Embassy is continuously providing food. I have also volunteered to distribute food. They give us cash to buy the supplies, which we distribute here,” said Rems, a resident of Mahboula.

But the support of the embassy is not enough, so private individuals are also distributing food at the perimeter fence. “While they cannot enter the area, they can coordinate with people in need and ask them to come to the perimeter fence to hand them the supplies over the fence. This is how their supplies are getting into the locked down areas,” said Rems.

May Siapno, also a volunteer to distribute embassy aid to Filipinos in Jleeb, once tried her luck to get some food from the government-run distribution center. “Hands up! I won’t try again; the queue is too long with no social distancing, and you must pray that you will get your share. Unfortunately, I went home without food. I saw a lot of Filipinos in the queue, and I felt sorry for them. This is why we asked the embassy for food support. They give us cash to buy food and distribute it to our fellow Filipinos here,” said Siapno.

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