No permit means no help for desperate father

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2007, 12:00am

As the father of a newborn child, Li Qianshou should be spending most of his time at home, pampering his wife and the son she gave birth to eight days ago.

But the 36-year-old father has been wandering around Ninger county's Chayuan Square with his family, trying to get a tent for his fragile band.

Like thousands of others, the Li family was forced to evacuate its home and has been living in the open since Sunday morning.

But Mr Li's family must also deal with the complications of not being local. They do not have a residency permit, or hukou, even though Mr Li has been living in the small town for more than 10 years.

While watching hundreds of registered locals settle into their temporary shelters, Mr Li, a garment vendor from Taizhou , in Zhejiang province, has been trying in vain to get temporary accommodation for his family. He said he had tried many times to confront officials in charge of relief supplies, but was told he needed papers from the neighbourhood committee. 'But where am I going to find these people now that most of the government offices have been deserted?' the distraught father asked.

He said he had been turned away by health authorities operating mobile wards in the square 'because neither my wife nor my son has any sign of illness'.

Mr Li said he had offered to buy a tent, but no one would sell one to him.

Holding an umbrella above his wife to allow her to breastfeed the baby, Mr Li said he had obtained a small camping tent for her and the baby to sleep in.

He said the small tent was stuffy during the day and even a healthy adult would not be able to bear the heat, let alone a baby and nursing mother.

Mr Li said the officials knew his family needed a tent more than others, but all they could do was tell him to wait.

'I don't know how long I have to wait or if we can get a tent at all,' he said.