ABU DHABI // Residents of Kashmir whose lives were devastated by the worst floods to hit the territory in more than a century have thanked the UAE for providing relief.
In the second phase of relief to the area since the September floods, the Government and the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) have sent 5,000 blankets, 41 tonnes of food, 2,000 items of warm clothing and 800 umbrellas.
The aid was distributed with the support of the UAE Embassy in India and the Indian Red Cross Society.
Dr Salem Al Dhanhani, deputy head of mission at the embassy, said: “The ERC’s relief efforts have supported the needs of those affected by floods in the cold weather, where temperatures drop to minus 20°C in some areas.
“Underprivileged families usually stock food before the winter season, but this time, the floods destroyed everything.”
Rameez Wani, a student in the Kashmiri city of Srinagar, said his house was destroyed during the floods.
He is now facing financial difficulties and struggles to support his wife, parents, two sisters and a brother with special needs.
“We are grateful to the people of UAE who are supporting us in our difficult time,” he said.
“Recent floods have destroyed everything and with the support of such generous help, we are trying to rebuild our lives again.”
Arjimand Hussain Talib, a journalist from Srinagar, also lauded the UAE’s support.
“Humanitarian support from countries like UAE has been timely and crucial,” he said. “This aid has been culturally appropriate, and designed to meet key needs on the ground. We have seen the positive effect in saving lives and helping people cope with the devastating floods.”
Irfa Khan, a Kashmiri who lives in this country, said: “Although it is an uphill task to rehabilitate the flood victims, the efforts of the UAE Government and Red Crescent are highly appreciated.”
Some of her family have been badly affected by the floods. Now, with winter fast approaching, their problems persist.
“Due to winter, they cannot live in the makeshifts tents anymore and hence need help on urgent basis. I am glad that the help from ERC came at the right time,” she said.
Ms Khan, said there were issues with aid delivery. “Definitely the UAE is doing a commendable job, but at the ground level, the relief is not reaching the right people. So I feel it would be best if through voluntary organisations, some needy families could be identified and rehabilitated,” she said.
Ms Khan also complained about the response from the Kashmir government. She said: “The focus now has shifted from flood rehabilitation to the continuing assembly polls. As a result the state government and even the central government are hardly doing anything for the rehabilitation of the flood-affected people at the moment.”
The flooding started in September when 450 millimetres of rain fell in just 30 hours, engulfing more than 500 square kilometres of land with a population of more than two million people. They were the most severe floods in the state for 109 years.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region and chairman of ERC, ordered authorities to send urgent humanitarian assistance to the victims of the disaster.