Amid the ongoing row between the Centre and the Kerala government on whether India should accept foreign aid for the flood-affected people of the state, the European Union in New Delhi has found a way out: channel its aid through the India Red Cross Society (IRCS).
The EU has allocated an initial contribution of €190,000 in humanitarian aid funding to support the IRCS for immediate relief assistance. The aid will directly benefit 25,000 from amongst the most affected people in some of the worst hit areas of the state.
This came a day after External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar clarified that while India would not be accepting aid channelled by governments in line with the existing policy; contributions to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund and the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund from NRIs, PIOs and international entities such as foundations would, however, be welcome.
The EU funding though the IRCS “will ensure much-needed assistance through the distribution of essential shelter and household items including tarpaulins and kitchen sets. As outbreaks of vector-borne diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and malaria are common following flooding, mosquito nets are also being provided, while disease prevention and hygiene promotion activities are being conducted. Special attention will be placed on the most vulnerable populations,” the EU said in a statement.
The funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), it said. A humanitarian expert from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Operations (ECHO) has also been deployed to further assess the situation, it added.
India as a policy has politely declined to accept assistance from foreign governments, including those of United Arab Emirates, Qatar, the Maldives. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and the vice-president of the UAE, had offered Rs 700 crore in aid but India declined.
This has drawn criticism from the Kerala government which has contended that the UAE could not be considered as any other foreign nation since Keralites have contributed immensely to the development of the Gulf nation.
Analysts feel the Centre should not refuse outright all offers of aid in a humanitarian disaster situation but take the particular state’s concerns and requests on board and fine-tune its response to assistance offers from foreign governments.