NGOs get green light to distribute food to homeless

NGOs had expressed concern over the government’s earlier decision to bar them from directly distributing food and other items to the needy and homeless.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government today gave the green light to NGOs to distribute food to their targeted communities during the movement control order period, but said they must abide by certain guidelines.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun said NGOs wishing to hand out food or items to the poor and homeless must inform the Welfare Department’s operations room in the state one day earlier.

She said they may distribute food that is cooked or dried items.

Only two members of each NGO are allowed to distribute the items, and a Rela or Civil Defence Force member will be accompanying them.

They must also put on their face masks and gloves at all times and maintain social distancing.

“The ministry appreciates the NGOs’ intention to ensure that food and other items are distributed to these people,” Rina said in a statement.

Last week, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government’s decision to bar NGOs from distributing aid to the poor and homeless affected by the MCO was based on advice from the health ministry.

He said they wanted to protect the NGOs as they were not sure if the people they are sending aid to had been infected.

Ismail advised the NGOs to send the items to a collection point which will then be distributed by Rela and the army.

Several NGOs expressed their concerns over the decision, saying would lead to food wastage and delays.