UAE lends a helping hand

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UAE lends a helping hand

Half a million stateless people living in abject poverty in an area in West Bengal — a no man’s land between Bangladesh and India — is one reason why Shaesta Abdul Aziz Mehta is in the UAE.

By Amanda Fisher

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Published: Wed 27 Mar 2013, 12:04 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:31 AM

The senior oncologist and head of the Relief and Charitable Foundation of India’s (RCFI) Medical and Women Empowerment wing has come to Dubai for the tenth Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition (DIHAD), which was in its second day on Tuesday.

Princess Haya visits a stall at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition on Monday. — Wam

“India just lets (the stateless people) live there, but it doesn’t want to take responsibility because then India has so many other responsibilities involved with taking care of them...it’s only been non-governmental organisations who have gone there and given relief.”

The stateless people living near Assam, who did not even have residency cards, did not exist, she said.

Mehta said she wanted the government to aid her charity — “But first of course, (they need to) take liability for these people and adopt them, but it’s very hard to convince the government.”

She said while India was becoming a global power, it was still in need of aid.

“What is being projected to the rest of the world that (India) is the fastest developing country is just 15 to 20 per cent of the picture. 70 per cent of people in India live in the rural areas, so all the economic growth that we see is from the urban population...but the 70 per cent that live (rurally) still don’t have water and electricity, there’s no roads to reach them.”

Indian poverty was not a recognised cause, unlike poverty in African countries, Mehta said.

“India and its needs have not got that attention and they need analysis.” Her charity was at the conference in order to make partnerships with the more than 150 other organisations present, but she also hoped to raise the plight of some of India’s poor — in the East and North East regions — amongst UAE citizens and residents.

“The UAE has long been a benefactor (for Indians), it’s permitted Indians to work, and permitted them to rise and for their families to be looked after and that’s why we are here. India requires help, it needs more coverage and it needs NGOs to come and see the situation.”

RCFI had teamed up with the UAE Red Crescent 10 years ago, during which time it had received support to build houses, mosques and primary schools and start a feeding programme, among other things. At the opening speech on the previous day, Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai talked of international collaboration amongst aid organisations.

“How do we function as team members and partners? That, in essence, is the question we are here to address.”

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross vice president Christine Beerli said there was a current pattern of host countries blocking access to aid in several places.

She stressed that partnership was the foundation for successful aid, between the organisation, society and local partners.

Partnership, the key tenet of this year’s conference, was again touched on by the UK Minister of State for International Development Alan Duncan who said that the GCC countries had become key players in the humanitarian world. It was important for all involved to form partnerships to ensure the funding and aid action commitments were followed through.

Also during the conference, Microsoft Gulf signed an agreement with the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department to provide Microsoft programmes for its 21 registered charitable organisations.

DIHAD, being held at the Dubai International Convention and 
Exhibition Centre, will conclude today.

amanda@khaleejtimes.com



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