Kerala floods: Shashi Tharoor held 'high-level talks' with UN officials in Geneva on relief aid, presents suggestions to govt

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has said that he  held "high-level briefings" to discuss about possible help to Kerala at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva during his one-day visit there. Tharoor had gone to Geneva on Monday to pay condolences to former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan's family. Annan had passed away on 18 August and Tharoor filed a petition in court for him to be allowed to travel to Geneva to meet his family as he had been close to Annan from his days with the United Nations. Tharoor who is facing trial in the death case of his wife Sunanda Pushkar, was then granted permission by a Delhi court as his counsel said that he would return by Tuesday.

Tharoor met UN officials in Geneva. Image courtesy: Twitter/@ShashiTharoor

Tharoor met UN officials in Geneva. Image courtesy: Twitter/@ShashiTharoor

Tharoor's lawyer had also said in court that he wanted to seek aid for Kerala flood relief from the UN authorities during his trip to Geneva. However, this had courted controversy with people asking Tharoor to not "beg" in front foreign organisations and many asking as to who gave him permission to do so on India's behalf. Thus, Tharoor has now put up a Facebook post in which he has explained that his visit was purely in "personal capacity" and completely funded by him and that he held these talks after consulation with the Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Tharoor in a Facebook post has written that he met with a host of officials including Michael Møller, Under-Secretary-General and Director-General, UNOG (UN Offices in Geneva) and with Deputy Director and Chief of Emergency Programmes of OCHA, Deputy–Directors-General Dr Peter Salama (Emergency Preparedness and Response) and Dr Soumya Swaminathan (Programmes) and Mr. Peter Maurer, President, the International Committee of the Red Cross — on the "ongoing humanitarian crisis of floods in Kerala, and to identify avenues through which international organisations can support relief, rehabilitation and rebuilding operations in the state".

And based on his conversation with these officials, Tharoor has presented in front of the state and central government, a host of "conclusions and recommendations":

— The state government could examine whether it requires a multi-sector needs assessment by UN agencies (WHO, UNICEF, OCHA)

— Depending on whether the quantum of long-term reconstruction assistance from the central government is adequate, the state government could give thought to holding an international    reconstruction conference to 'Rebuild Kerala better' in partnership with the UN system so that significant international assistance in reconstruction can be facilitated

— The state government could request for the 2 million WHO stock of anti-cholera vaccines to minimise the risk of grave water-borne diseases

— The state government could accept ICRC/Gujarat Forensics University support as deemed appropriate

— Since the Government of India does not wish to request international assistance directly, it is entirely feasible to operationalise any and all of the above by negotiating with the UN system to have the UN offer what we need, on a no-objection basis from the Government of India, Tharoor has suggested in his post.

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Updated Date: Aug 22, 2018 15:00:48 IST

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