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Have made no official announcement of funds for Kerala flood relief, says UAE

The clarification comes amid a raging controversy over the Centre not accepting foreign aid for the southern state, which witnessed more than 350 deaths over the last two weeks.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2018 22:42 IST
Kerala floods,Flood relief,Foreign aid
Two men row a boat through a flooded paddy field next to an inundated structure in Alappuzha, Kerala.(AP Photo)

No specific amount for financial aid to flood-ravaged Kerala has been finalised officially by the United Arab Emirates and there was no announcement on donation to the state, officials in UAE embassy said here today, amid a row over the Centre deciding not to accept any foreign donations for flood relief.

UAE ambassador Ahmed Albannam, without mentioning financial aid, said his government only set up a national emergency committee to provide relief assistance to people affected by flash floods in Kerala.

“The UAE has not officially announced any financial aid for Kerala flood relief. We have not conveyed anything to India on any assistance,” said a senior official in the UAE embassy here.

He said the UAE may come out with its plan in the next few days to extend assistance to flood victims.

Watch: Specially-abled Kerala hero saves couple from floods

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan earlier this week said that the UAE has decided to extend a financial assistance of Rs 700 crore to Kerala, considering the Gulf nation’s special relationship with Kerala.

Around three million Indians live and work in the UAE, out of which 80 per cent are from Kerala, according to official figures.

On August 18, Prime Minister and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum tweeted that his country has formed a committee for extending help to flood affected people in Kerala.

“UAE and the Indian community will unite to offer relief to those affected. We have formed a committee to start immediately. We urge everyone to contribute generously towards this initiative,” he tweeted.

Days after the Kerala CM said the UAE has offered to give Rs 700 crore to his state, the Ministry of External Affairs made it clear that the Centre will not allow any financial assistance from foreign governments for Kerala in sync with an existing policy.

The MEA, however, said contributions to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund and the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund from NRIs (Non Resident Indians, PIOs (Persons of Indian Origin) and international entities such as foundations will be welcomed.

While refusing foreign aid, the government invoked a policy decision taken by the Manmohan Singh government in 2004 in the aftermath of the Tsunami for not accepting foreign assistance.

After the MEA said India will not accept donations from foreign nations, an unhappy Vijayan said the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had in 2016 suggested that assistance offered as a goodwill gesture “may” be accepted, asserting that there is no blanket ban on receiving such assistance.

Vijayan said he would approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

First Published: Aug 24, 2018 20:51 IST