Kerala floods: People from state working in the Gulf go all out to send aid, relief materials back home

The million-strong Kerala contingent in the Gulf Cooperation Council, the largest single entity in the region has been galvanised into swift action. The almost 500 associations and groups have come together to create emergency action teams to send tangible relief to their flood-ravaged state. But is it enough and is the aid getting through?

The irony is that there is still a shortage of volunteers at both ends of the spectrum and this is delaying aid reaching the one million marooned citizens of the stricken state, according to Chandraprakash, joint co-ordinator of the Indian People’s Forum and one of the ‘go to’ individuals for Indians in hot water. He tells Firstpost that if there is no swift delivery the foodgrains sent from abroad will rot and that is not the aim of the exercise.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Usually, in competition with one another, this time it is largely a collective and impressive effort. In the UAE, while the members of the billionaire’s club have pledged a total of Rs 150 million to the Kerala government it is the average NRI who is making a tangible contribution. Full page ads in the Gulf papers under the heading ‘Kerala needs you’ offer officially sanctioned donations starting from Rs 200 onwards right to Rs 10,000 to specific banks.

And people are responding in droves, not just Malayalis but also others including Arabs whose traditional ties to this region are deep and abiding. Speaking to Firstpost Isaac John, chairman of the World Malayali Council said that the movement of relief material has crossed several tonnes but because some associations are working on their own it is tough to quantify exactly how much but five top cargo companies have airlifted over 500 tonnes of foodstuffs, clothes and blankets for free. At least 50 percent of the natives of Kerala working in the Gulf are directly affected. Hotel staffer Ashil Raju, who works in the Sultanate of Muscat, planned to go for his annual leave this week. His family has left their flooded home at Panmamran in Wayanad district and been moved to safer areas. He is still going but is afraid of the destruction he will witness.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre here in the UAE has set up a check system to give as much real-time data on the situation in various parts of Kerala and create an audio-visual bridge. With the internet down and calls not getting through and not knowing where their loved ones are is harrowing. Most affected are those living in Chengannur district. They have no idea where their families are. Jitin George has no knowledge of his loved ones for the past ten days. The best scenario -- they are trapped on the roof of their house.

Individual efforts are indicative of the shock and dismay at the ravaging of the state for the first time in living history. PK Hussain has dispatched Rs 4 crore worth of medicines from Dubai. The well-known supermarket magnate Yusuf Ali has announced a further Rs 1 crore to his initial donation of Rs 4 crore. The Moopen medical corporation is lining up 500 paramedics to send them to India get to those in peril. A video of Pakistani blue collars offering one month’s salary as an aid contribution has touched many hearts. On the other side of the social scale but no less commendable three little-known residents of Kerala working in the UAE have collected 5,000 kilograms of relief goods to send home to the afflicted. Mujib, Siddiq and Vinu are sensibly calling for biscuits, protein, milk powder sleeping mats, sanitary napkins, torch lights and toiletries. These will be shipped gratis bot the IFX cargo company and leaves today to reach within five sailing days.

Meanwhile, a priority list of things needed has been issued by the Indian People’s Forum asking folks not to send only clothes but to stick to essentials like sugar, salt, foodstuffs (tinned) and medicines. Also blankets and plastic coverings.

Besides the inability to communicate with home, the other fears are of expats stranded and unable to come to the Gulf after vacations.

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Updated Date: Aug 20, 2018 12:31:52 IST

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