Indian opposition party leader Rahul Gandhi to visit UAE

President of the Indian National Congress Party Rahul Gandhi addresses the 48th Congress plenary session in New Delhi on March 17, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 08 January 2019

Indian opposition party leader Rahul Gandhi to visit UAE

  • Indian National Congress president starts two-day visit to UAE on Friday
  • The Congress head is also scheduled to meet UAE leaders and officials in the capital Abu Dhabi

DUBAI: Rahul Gandhi, the president of India’s leading opposition party, is due to visit the UAE later this week.
The Indian National Congress politician’s two-day trip comes in the run-up to his country’s elections later this year.
Gandhi is expected to arrive in the UAE on Friday and one of his first engagements will be to meet with members of the Indian community living abroad. This will take place at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, where India’s prime minister Narendra Modi addressed the community during a visit in 2015.The Congress head is also scheduled to meet Indian business leaders, university students and visit labor camps during his trip.
Gandhi is also scheduled to meet UAE leaders and officials in the capital Abu Dhabi. 
Speaking exclusively to Arab News, Sam Pitroda, chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress that is organizing the visit, said Gandhi’s UAE trip was part of the party’s outreach campaign to more than 20 million non-resident Indians (NRI) across the world.
“These Indians may have left Indian soil but India still lives in their hearts and minds,” Pitroda said. “Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party wants to reconnect them with their motherland so that they can contribute to the welfare of Indian society in different ways.”
Pitroda said large numbers of Indian expatriates had registered to attend the cricket stadium event through the website rginuae.com that has been specially set up for the visit.
“NRIs are an important element in our democracy. Even if they don’t vote, their opinion matters a lot as they can influence their families and communities back home. Hence it is important to interact with them,” Pitroda said.
He added that NRIs played a “crucial role” in shaping his country's political, social and economic canvas.
A US-based NRI himself, Pitroda was a key figure in the telecoms revolution that took place in India during the 1980s.
He said Gandhi’s UAE visit will focus on spreading the party’s message of inclusiveness. “Be it equality, freedom, democracy, faith, culture, communities, Congress believes in including everyone, and that’s the beauty of India,” he said.
Surender Singh Kandhari, chairman of Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara, in Dubai, welcomed Gandhi’s visit. “We hope he will perform well and steer our country towards a progressive and a better India.”
Kandhari said he anticipated that Gandhi would encourage young, educated new faces to join the party and hopefully take a leading role in India’s development in the years to come.
Kamran Ziauddin, from Aligarh, who has been living in UAE for more than 18 years, said Gandhi’s UAE visit was crucial coming just months before the country goes to the polls, saying his party offered an alternative solution to the challenges facing India today.
C Uday Bhaskar, director of the Society for Policy Studies in New Delhi, said the 2019 election is being seen as one that will determine the future direction of India.


UN warns of severe aid cuts in Yemen without new funds soon

Updated 22 August 2019

UN warns of severe aid cuts in Yemen without new funds soon

  • Donors have pledged $2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis
  • But UN humanitarian chief Lise Grande says less than half the amount has been received so far
UNITED NATIONS: The UN humanitarian chief in Yemen warned Wednesday that unless significant new funding is received in the coming weeks, food rations for 12 million people in the war-torn country will be reduced and at least 2.5 million malnourished children will be cut off from life-saving services.
Lise Grande said the UN was forced to suspend most vaccination campaigns in May, and without new money a “staggering” 22 life-saving programs in Yemen will close in the next two months.
At a UN pledging conference in February, donors pledged $2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis, but Grande said that to date, less than half the amount has been received.
“When money doesn’t come, people die,” she said in a statement Wednesday.
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Iran-backed Houthi Shiite rebels who control much of the country’s north. A Saudi-led coalition that includes the United Arab Emirates allied with Yemen’s internationally recognized government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.
The fighting in the Arab world’s poorest country has left thousands of civilians and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical care shortages and pushing the country to the brink of famine.
UN deputy humanitarian chief Ursula Mueller told the Security Council on Tuesday that 12 million Yemenis have been assisted every month, “but much of this is about to stop” because only 34% of the UN’s $4.2 billion appeal for 2019 has been funded.
At this time last year, she said, 65% of the appeal was funded, including generous contributions from Yemen’s neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The UN humanitarian office in New York said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia and the UAE each pledged $750 million to its Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019.
Grande said the UN is grateful to donors who have lived up to their promises, and in half the districts where people were facing famine “conditions have improved to the point where families are no longer at risk of starvation.”
But she said of the 34 major UN humanitarian programs in Yemen, only three are funded for the entire year. Several have been forced to close in recent weeks, Grande said, and many large-scale projects designed to help destitute, hungry families have been unable to start.
Without new funds in the coming weeks, she said, 19 million people will also lose access to health care, including 1 million women who depend on the UN for reproductive health services. In addition, Grande said, clean water programs for 5 million people will have to shut down at the end of October and tens of thousands of displaced families may find themselves homeless.
“Millions of people in Yemen, who through no fault of their own are the victims of this conflict, depend on us to survive,” she said. “All of us are ashamed by the situation. It’s heart-breaking to look a family in the eye and say we have no money to help.”