India decision to decline UAE, Qatar aid for flood relief draws criticism

Flood-affected people wait to receive food inside a college auditorium, which has been converted into a temporary relief camp, in Kochi. (Reuters)
Updated 23 August 2018
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India decision to decline UAE, Qatar aid for flood relief draws criticism

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has announced an assistance of 6 billion rupees
  • But the flood-ravaged state of Kerala requested at least 20 billion rupees

NEW DELHI: India will not accept relief assistance from foreign governments for the flood-ravaged state of Kerala, the government has said, following offers of aid from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The decision to decline foreign help drew criticism from the opposition which called for an end the suffering of the people of the southern state hit by the worst flooding in a century, which has killed hundreds of people.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has announced assistance of 6 billion rupees ($85 million), compared with a request from the state for at least 20 billion rupees.
Modi has promised more aid and his government said late on Wednesday that would come through “domestic efforts.”
“The government of India deeply appreciates offers from several countries, including from foreign governments, to assist in relief and rehabilitation efforts after the tragic floods in Kerala,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
“In line with the existing policy, the government is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts.”
This week, the United Arab Emirates offered assistance of $100 million while Qatar offered $5 million. Many people from Kerala live and work in the Gulf.
Torrential rain that began in Kerala on Aug. 8 killed 231 people, destroyed tens of thousands of homes, and washed away roads and bridges, leading to an estimated loss of at least 200 billion rupees ($2.85 billion).
The rain eased over the weekend as the focus of efforts turned to relief and rehabilitation from rescue.
The main opposition Congress party accused Modi of exacerbating the crisis by failing to come through with more aid and creating obstacles to foreign help.
“This decision is quite disappointing to the people of Kerala,” Congress leader and former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy wrote in a public letter to Modi.
“Rules should be such (that they) eradicate the sufferings of the people. If there exist any obstacle against the acceptance of foreign aid, kindly look into the matter seriously and bring suitable modifications.”
The foreign ministry said the government would welcome contributions to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund and the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund from foundations, Indians living abroad and from people of Indian origin.
Kerala’s Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said on Twitter the central government should compensate the state for refusing foreign aid.


Protesters clash with Indonesian police after election loss

Updated 29 sec ago
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Protesters clash with Indonesian police after election loss

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Supporters of an unsuccessful presidential candidate clashed with security forces and set fire to a police dormitory and vehicles in the Indonesian capital on Wednesday after the release of official election results.
The situation turned violent late Tuesday when protesters tried to force their way into the offices of the election supervisory agency and clashes continued through the night, National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said. More than 20 suspected provocateurs were arrested, he said Wednesday.
KompasTV showed protesters throwing rocks, a paramilitary police dormitory on fire, and hundreds of riot police in a central neighborhood.
Indonesia’s Election Commission on Tuesday said President Joko Widodo had won a second term with 55.5% of the vote in the April 17 election.
Former special forces general Prabowo Subianto has refused to accept the results and declared himself the winner. His campaign plans to challenge the election in the Constitutional Court. They allege massive fraud but have provided no credible evidence.
Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono said police used tear gas and water cannon against protesters who threw rocks, molotov cocktails and burning projectiles.
The government had deployed some 50,000 police and soldiers in Jakarta in anticipation of protests, said Yuwono. Many residents have left the city and parts of the downtown are closed to traffic with the election supervisory agency and election commission barricaded with razor wire.
In the past week, authorities have arrested three pro-Subianto activists on suspicion of treason, said Prasetyo, including a retired general and former commander of Indonesia’s special forces. Police allege there was a plot to seize crucial government buildings in Jakarta.