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Abu Dhabi



          Ambassador Navdeep Suri and Consul General Vipul yesterday had a detailed meeting with representatives of about 30 major Indian community associations to discuss the situation in Kerala.  After screening a short film that depicts the gravity of the damage caused by the unprecedented floods, he highlighted the measures being taken by the Government of India and the Government of Kerala to provide emergency relief to the affected citizens.  Contingents of the Indian Armed forces, Navy and Air Force were working alongside State Government officials to provide all necessary assistance.

2.       Ambassador Suri expressed deep gratitude and appreciation for the concern expressed by the leadership of UAE and in particular by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, Ruler of Dubai and Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.  He said that their messages of support at this crucial juncture reflect the true depth of India-UAE relations and also highlight the age-old bonds between the people of India and the people of UAE.

3.       Ambassador Suri explained that he has been in touch with the Government of India in Delhi, with the Government of Kerala in Thiruvananthapuram and also with the UAE Government.  Based on his discussions, he advised the Indian community associations of the following:

i.        Government of Kerala is keen that all contributions large or small should       be made directly to the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund.  He     welcomed the decision of Exchange Houses like UAE Exchange and Lulu Exchange to waive off remittance fees to this Fund.

ii.       He drew attention to reports that certain community organizations and individuals were engaged in fund-raising efforts to support the relief efforts         in Kerala.  He also drew attention to local laws that clearly define the          organizations that are authorized to engage in fund-raising and advised           them to abide by local laws. 

iii.      He welcomed the enthusiasm of community organizations and individuals      in collecting various relief materials for dispatch to Kerala but highlighted      the feedback from Government of Kerala advising against dispatch of such      materials.  He pointed out that Government of Kerala has said that any   shortages of relief materials are temporary and localized and there is   abundant availability from States neighbouring Kerala.

4.       In response to the interest shown by some participants to volunteer their expertise for the reconstruction efforts in Kerala, Ambassador asked the Director of NORKA to establish a portal which would receive CVs of doctors, engineers, electricians, technicians and others who are willing to volunteer their time along with the tentative window in which they can go to Kerala and offer community service.  This information could be matched with the reconstruction programmes undertaken by Government of Kerala.

5.       Some community associations pointed out that their members are stuck in Kerala because their passports have been damaged in the floods and they may be delayed in returning to UAE since they have to obtain fresh passports and visas.  A similar issue was also raised with regard to possible delay in return of students for the school session.  Ambassador Suri promised to take up both issues with the relevant UAE authorities.