Qatar flies in planeload of aid to ease plight of KZN flood victims

By Nabeelah Shaikh

In a show of solidarity, the government of Qatar has come to the aid of South Africa following the devastating April floods which left more than 450 people dead. 

KwaZulu-Natal recently welcomed and received a cargo plane filled with humanitarian aid to bolster relief and rebuilding efforts. The aid comprises foodstuff, clothing, generators, water purifiers, ventilators, tents and medical supplies. Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor, Department of Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala took receipt of the aid at the King Shaka International Airport in Durban. 

Tariq Ali Faraj, Ambassador of Qatar in SA told Al Qalam: “It’s a token of friendship from the state of Qatar. Qatar will not forget South Africa in times of hardship and will offer support when needed. We hope that this plight will be over soon for the South African people. Our team will be on the ground and won’t leave back for a couple of weeks. They will offer support for the distribution and the management of the disaster response.” 

In accepting the aid, Zikalala recognised the growth and strengthening of bilateral and trade relations between Qatar and SA. He said he was pleased that it continued to yield positive results for both countries.

“The fact that we have received humanitarian support from the government of Qatar further cements the existing relations between our province and Qatar as evidenced by the daily flights between Durban and Doha which is one of the aviation hubs in the world. Very importantly too, is the cargo link with our world-class Dube Tradeport and the commercial centres of the world,” said Zikalala.

The Premier highlighted that Qatar’s assistance sends a powerful message that although both countries might be miles apart from each other, humanity is one. 

“The Qatari government is giving practical meaning by helping us as their neighbours in our time of need and we are thankful for this. Their contribution will help lighten the burden of meeting the humanitarian needs of the over 4000 citizens currently housed in community care centres after they were displaced,” said Zikalala. 

Zikalala also recognised the transnational humanitarian work of the Red Crescent in bringing relief to the vulnerable and desperate, in SA’s greatest hour of need. 

“They provided personal protective equipment and disaster relief equipment, which will be of enormous value to us. Beyond this, the expertise of the technical team of the Red Crescent will enhance our own capacity in dealing with disasters,” he said. 

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, welcomed the donations from Qatar and said it was a reflection of true humanity.

“What we are experiencing is true international friendship from the people and government of Qatar, and we are most excited because this is an expansion of a relationship that has existed over a number of years,” said Pandor. 

Pandor also said she was pleased that a Qatari team is in KZN. 

“I think this is incredibly important. It is not just bringing an airplane load of humanitarian aid. It’s also carrying out an assessment on what the needs on the ground are, what further support might be needed or rendered by the State of Qatar to South Africa,” Pandor said. 

The KZN provincial government will work with all stakeholders, including Qatari teams in South Africa, to ensure the aid reaches all those who need it most. 

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