Emirates Red Crescent takes lead in Kerala flood relief

Senior official says some ERC workers already on the ground aiding relief efforts

Dubai: Emirates Red Crescent is leading UAE efforts to provide relief for people affected by devastating floods in southern India’s Kerala state, a senior official of Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) said on Sunday.

Fahad Abdul Rahman Bin Sultan, deputy secretary-general for international aid affairs at ERC, told Gulf News ERC employees and volunteers are already on the ground in Kerala, aiding relief efforts there.

More than 350 people have been killed and some 800,000 have been displaced in the worst flooding in a century in Kerala. Heavier than usual monsoon rains have submerged most parts of the state, which has issued alerts for many districts.

The UAE community — the leadership, humanitarian organisations, government entities, residents, and businesses — has stepped forward to support the people of Kerala.

On Sunday, Bin Sultan said: “As you know, the order to support the people of Kerala has come from President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to all humanitarian organisations. The leader will be ERC for international aid from the UAE.”

He added: “We’re coordinating with all the humanitarian organisations, Indian societies and associations, and businesses to collect stocks and money — and to share information on the same ­— to support Kerala.”

Bin Sultan said it was more important to send money to Kerala, so food and other supplies could be bought from markets close to the flood-affected areas. He pointed out that it was more expensive, and logistically more complicated, to send in-kind relief by air — sometimes the cost of cargo is higher than the cost of the items being sent.

“We [ERC] are working on the ground in Kerala. Our employees and volunteers are coordinating with the UAE consulate in Kerala and the government of Kerala. We have given directives to the consulate to buy food from the area there. We have collected items and we also have items already in stock.” The relief will be flow from the UAE to Kerala in a few days, Bin Sultan added, after the go-ahead from the UAE and Kerala, considering the weather and on-ground situation in Kerala. Also, an ERC delegation will be going to Kerala soon, he said.

When asked about the total amount of funds and items for the Kerala relief effort, Bin Sultan said that the collection of funds and items is still an ongoing process. He added that the response from the UAE community has been strong, citing Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation (KBZF), which alone received Dh10 million, as an example.

On Sunday, KBZF said the contributions started pouring in only hours after it launched an emergency relief campaign to assist the Kerala flood victims in line with the directives of the UAE leadership.

ERC, established in 1983, is the leading humanitarian organisation of the UAE.

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