Most elections violence victims' claims genuine
- committee reports

by Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle
May 22, 2001

THE Assistance Assessment Committee (AAC) appointed by the Office of the President to identify the victims of violence from the elections of March 19 and thereafter has already interviewed 138 persons from various parts of the country.

Chairman Mrs Yvonne Hinds yesterday said 50 per cent of these have already been assessed by the committee.

She said that based on this assessment, most of the claims by victims are genuine except for "one or two" bogus bids.

The AAC support staff has interviewed persons from communities so far including Independence Boulevard and South Sophia, Georgetown, Grove Squatting area, Noot-en-Zuil, Annandale and Mahaica, East Coast Demerara; Port Mourant, Corentyne Berbice and Stewartville, West Coast Demerara.

Of the 138 persons interviewed, 73 are from the East Coast Demerara; 32 are from Georgetown; six from East Bank Demerara; three from Corentyne; three from West Coast Demerara; three from Mahaicony; four from West Coast Berbice; 12 from West Bank Demerara and two from West Bank Berbice.

According to Mrs Hinds, incidents reported by persons seeking assistance varies from loss of income; physical injuries - lacerations, abrasions, burns and concussions about the body; emotional trauma; muggings (commonly called `choke and rob'); armed robbery including loss of jewellery, personal possessions and cash; arson to private cane fields; damage to property especially vehicles; theft, ranging from simple larceny to armed robberies; destruction of property due to arson and looting; and arson involving damage to buildings including the Regent Street, Georgetown fire.

She pointed out though that in cases like the Regent Street fire, the information on these claims will be forwarded to the Office of the President for different assessment due to the magnitude and nature of the loss.

She noted that the government has allocated some $150M to the committee to carry out its assistance work.

Mrs Hinds along with other Committee members - Mrs Indra Chandarpal, former Minister of Human Services and Social Security; Mr Moen Hack, CEO of the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG) and Mr Harry Ramdass, Special Assistant to the Head of the Presidential Secretariat - yesterday briefed reporters on the progress of the committee's work.

Pastor Orin Cummings of the Reedemer Lutheran Church, the other member of the committee, was unable to attend yesterday's press briefing at the committee's headquarters at the Guyana Relief Council (GRC) building at Riverview (opposite Thirst Park) in Ruimveldt, Georgetown.

The committee's operation centre was established at the GRC Secretariat on May 9 with an initial support staff of six which was subsequently increased to eight and an administrative component of four persons, headed by Mrs Hinds.

The Chairman also said the support staff will be conducting interviews today at Unity/Lancaster Community Centre, East Coast Demerara; Fort Wellington Regional Office, West Coast Berbice; New Amsterdam Regional Office, Vryman's Erven, RDC Boardroom; and Albion Sports Complex, Corentyne, Berbice simultaneously between 10:00 hrs and 15:00 hrs.

The support staff will also continue its interviews tomorrow at Unity/Lancaster Community Centre from 10:00 hrs to 15:00 hrs.

Also, members of the public who have suffered violence due to post-elections disturbances are asked to go into the committee's GRC headquarters from Monday to Friday between 09:00 hrs and 17:000 hrs.

Members of the public are asked to take in a written statement and any other documents relevant to the losses experienced.

According to the committee, this would help to expedite the process.

The Assistance Assessment Committee could be reached on telephone numbers 225-3081 or 225-2874. (MARK RAMOTAR)