People, organizations and governments all across the world have come forward to offer support to the flood-ravaged Indian state of Kerala. Incessant rainfall over the last three weeks has claimed over 350 lives so far, while about 3.17 lakh people have been rendered homeless in the state.
While the Indian authorities are working non-stop to evacuate stranded people and bring amenities to relief camps, help had poured in from various other countries, notably from the diaspora community and governments of the Gulf nations of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman.
Qatar announced financial aid of $5 million to help provide shelter to those who lost their homes as a result of the humanitarian crisis, the Gulf Times reported. The Qatar Charity, through its representative in India, has launched emergency relief with a total value of half a million riyals during the first stage, the report added.
In the UAE, various Indian-origin billionaires have announced donations for relief efforts. Fathima Healthcare, owned by Dr. K. P. Hussain, announced donation of Rs 50 million, of which Rs 10 million would directly go to the chief minister’s relief fund while the rest of it would be used to help the victims with medical aids and other necessary assistance, the Khaleej Times reported.
“This situation needs to be handled very seriously and emergency treatment has to be provided with immediate effect. As recommended by the public health secretary, we have received the list of medicines which will be supplied to the relief camps,” he told the publication.
Kerala-born businessman Yusuff Ali MA, the chairman and managing director of LuLu Group, announced a Rs 50 million donation, while BR Shetty, the chairman of Unimoni and UAE Exchange, has offered to give Rs 20 million towards the cause.
Indian physician Azad Moopen, the founder-chairman of Aster DM Healthcare, pledged Rs 5 million, and said that the company has formed a group of 300 volunteers who will provide assistance in the flood-affected areas.
The UAE government has also formed an emergency committee, called Emirate Red Crescent, to extend support. The committee, announced by UAE prime minister and Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on Aug.18, will be chaired by the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) and will include representatives from the UAE’s humanitarian organizations, according to media reports.
“The people of Kerala have always been and are still part of our success story in the UAE. We have a special responsibility to help and support those affected, especially during this holy and blessed days,” Maktoum tweeted.
Sharjah ruler Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi also announced Rs 4 crore for the state on Aug. 18.
Contributions have also poured in from hundreds of other Indian-origin people in the country. The Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC), the largest Indian community organization in the UAE, collected two containers of relief materials in Dubai, according to a Gulf News report. The KMCC urged its 60,000 members to contribute one day’s salary for the relief efforts. The Abu Dhabi arm of the organization has committed to raise Rs 5 million, KMCC president Puthur Rahman told the publication.
In Oman, multiple collection centers were opened to help gather necessary materials for the flood victims. Officials also announced a special flight to carry all the collected items to Kerala.
Community members are also coming together in Ottawa, Canada, to collect funds for the relief operations. Restaurants such as Coconut Lagoon on St. Laurent Boulevard and Kochin Kitchen are organizing fundraisers for the cause, local publications reported.
Sewa International USA, a non-profit organization, has raised over $10,000 towards the flood relief, PTI reported. “Given the immediate need for help, we decided to release $10,000 in our first tranche of funds toward flood relief. We are in regular contact with our India partner, and our volunteers are joining hands with other relief agencies to provide as much help as we can in this hour of need,” Swadesh Katoch, director, Disaster Relief, was quoted as saying in the report.
Support and prayers for the victims of the natural calamity were also voiced by several global leaders, and other eminent personalities. On Aug. 19, Pope Francis led pilgrims in St Peter’s Square in prayer for victims of flooding. “The inhabitants of Kerala have been harshly struck by intense rains, which have caused flooding and landslides, with heavy loss of human life, with many people missing and displaced, with extensive damage to crops and homes,” the Vatican News quoted him as saying.