Saudi Arabia, UAE launch drive to support flood-hit Iranians

The Saudi Red Crescent Society and the UAE Red Crescent Authority are currently considering mechanisms to activate this initiative and to contribute positively to reducing the impact of floods in the affected areas. (AFP)
Updated 12 April 2019
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Saudi Arabia, UAE launch drive to support flood-hit Iranians

RIYADH: Humanitarian aid organizations in Saudi Arabia and the UAE have joined forces to help thousands of Iranians hit by devastating floods.

The Saudi Red Crescent Authority (SRCA) and Emirates Red Crescent (RCUAE) on Friday launched a major relief initiative after recent deluges left around 80 people dead and forced more than 80,000 residents to flee their homes.

In a joint statement, the two agencies said they were drawing up plans to channel aid to the worst-affected areas in a bid to ease the suffering of the Kingdom’s and the UAE’s “Iranian brothers.”

Iranian authorities on Wednesday ordered tens of thousands of people to leave their homes as floodwaters poured into the southwest city of Ahvaz, capital of Khuzestan province.

Gholamreza Shariati, provincial governor, pleaded for young men to volunteer to “help us in building dykes and to assist in the evacuation of women, children and the elderly.”

Nearly 80 people are known to have died in the past three weeks in torrents, described as the worst since the 1940s, which have swamped about 1,900 cities and villages in 20 of Iran’s 31 provinces.

The northeast of Iran was first to be hit by floods on March 19 before the west and southwest were inundated on March 25. On April 1, the west and southwest were again engulfed after heavy rain returned.

The huge inflows have forced authorities to release large volumes of water from Khuzestan’s largest dams, which is now threatening some cities downstream, including the Ahvaz region, where 1.3 million people live.

The disaster has left aid agencies struggling to cope and seen 86,000 people moved to emergency shelters.

The Iranian government has told its citizens, especially flood-affected farmers, that all losses will be compensated.


Gargash: UAE not leaving war-torn Yemen despite drawdown

Updated 50 min 46 sec ago
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Gargash: UAE not leaving war-torn Yemen despite drawdown

  • The UAE announced earlier this month it was drawing down and redeploying troops in Yemen
  • UAE minister Gargash said the Houthis should see the UAE move as a confidence-building measure

The United Arab Emirates, part of a Saudi-led military coalition, is not leaving war-torn Yemen despite an ongoing drawdown and redeployment of Emirati forces, a UAE minister has said.

“Just to be clear, the UAE and the rest of the coalition are not leaving Yemen,” minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said in an opinion piece published Monday in The Washington Post.

“While we will operate differently, our military presence will remain. In accordance with international law, we will continue to advise and assist local Yemen forces.”

The UAE announced earlier this month it was drawing down and redeploying troops in Yemen, where a years-long conflict between government forces - backed by the Saudi-led coalition - and Iran-backed Houthi militia has pushed the country to the brink of famine.

The UAE is a key partner in the military coalition which intervened in Yemen in 2015 to back the internationally-recognised government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi against the Houthi.

Gargash said the Houthis should see the UAE move as a “confidence-building measure to create new momentum to end the conflict”.

“As the United Arab Emirates draws down and redeploys its forces in Yemen, we do so in the same way we began - with eyes wide open,” he said.

“There was no easy victory and there will be no easy peace.

“But now is the time to double down on the political process.”

The warring sides have fought to a stalemate, and several rounds of UN-sponsored talks, the last held in Sweden in December, have failed to implement any deal to end the war.

Since 2015, tens of thousands of people - mostly civilians - have been killed in the conflict described by the United Nations as the world’s worst manmade humanitarian crisis.