World Long-haul carrier Emirates to ship aid for free into India
Modi could have prevented India's devastating Covid-19 crisis, critics say. He didn't
When countries rose in India, the country didn't go into lockdown. Instead, the government allowed mass gatherings at religious festivals and political rallies to go ahead.His country was on the brink of a humanitarian crisis. That day, India recorded more than 261,000 new coronavirus cases -- more than many countries have seen during the entire pandemic.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dubai's long-haul carrier Emirates will begin shipping aid from the World Health Organization and other groups into India for free to help fight a crushing outbreak of the coronavirus, the airline said Sunday.
The offer by Emirates, which has some 95 flights weekly to nine cities in India, initially involves aid already in Dubai but may expand across the carrier's network as time goes on. That could mean major savings for aid groups as airfreight costs have skyrocketed amid the pandemic. Demand for flown cargo stands at record levels worldwide.
Your top questions about India's Covid crisis answered
We put your questions about the severity and handling of the coronavirus crisis in India to experts.Many of you have been sending us questions regarding the current situation and we asked experts inside and outside the BBC to answer them.
Emirates made the announcement at Dubai's International Humanitarian City, already home toA WHO worker on a forklift moved boxes of tents made in Pakistan and rolls of net shades from South Korea preparing for the initial flight planned for Thursday. That will be used to construct field hospitals for India's overwhelmed health care system.
Nabil Sultan, the divisional senior vice president for Emirates SkyCargo, said the initial priority would be shipping aid out of Dubai, rather than elsewhere from its network. While airfreight costs stand at record prices, Sultan said offering free shipping for aid to India now was important for an airline that has flown to the South Asian country since the carrier's founding in 1985.
Opinion: India's Covid crisis has revealed the real Narendra Modi
Meenakshi Narula Ahamed writes that India's prime minister Narendra Modi's handling of the pandemic is endangering the country's public health but also its public institutions and democracy.By 2014, when Narendra Modi became prime minister of the world's largest democracy, India had long shed her image being one of the poorest nations teeming with starving and sick people in constant need of foreign aid. Under a team of pro-western reformers, India underwent an economic transformation in the 90's and by the early 2000's was being hailed as an economic powerhouse and an attractive partner for the western alliance.
“Our relationship with India in particular goes a long way and at times like this, I think it’s absolutely essential that we make sure that essential commodities get to India and to the Indian people,” Sultan told The Associated Press. "This is the time for us to give back.”
As India has grown into an economic power, so has Emirates and its base of Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest for international travel. The airline serves as a key link in East-West travel.
'Horrible' weeks ahead as India's virus catastrophe worsens
NEW DELHI (AP) — COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis and a top expert warning that the coming weeks in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people will be “horrible.” India's official count of coronavirus cases surpassed 20 million Tuesday, nearly doubling in the past three months, while deaths officially have passed 220,000. Staggering as those numbers are, the true figures are believed to be far higher, the undercount an apparent reflection of the troubles in the health care system.
Passenger numbers from India for Emirates, just under 3 million in 2008, grew to 5.5 million a decade later. That's some 10% of Emirates overall annual passenger load, with more coming from the surrounding countries on the subcontinent. Millions of Indians also live in the United Arab Emirates and comprise a key part of its labor force.
Then came the pandemic and the fierce outbreak now burning through India. Infections have surged there since February, fueled by variants and the government's permission for massive crowds to attend religious festivals and political rallies. On Saturday alone, India reported over 400,000 new cases and more than 4,000 deaths. Since the pandemic began, India has reported 21.8 million cases and nearly 240,000 deaths, though experts say even those figures likely are undercounts.
How Indian Americans Got the President’s Ear
After years of trying to build influence, the Indian American political world is starting to feel a sense of actual power and clout in the new administration.Within 24 hours, he had heard back from a White House official, who told him that a team had been assembled to consider the situation. Two days after that, Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted that the U.S. would “rapidly deploy additional support to the people of India.
The UAE banned in-bound passenger flights from India in late April, though cargo flights continued and passenger planes return with their seats now empty. Emirates already had been shipping in masks, gloves and other protective gear, as well as diffusers as oxygen remains in short supply for those gasping to breath in the throes of the virus, Sultan said.
As the Indian diaspora tries to send in more aid, Sultan said the airline would evaluate whether to expand the program to include shipments coming from outside of Dubai as well. Operating with groups already in Dubai ensure that they have the right paperwork and contacts to make sure the most vital aid reaches there first, he said.
“As a phase two and three, we will be looking at a range of opportunities for people to sort of donate if they wish, where we can provide capacity to those sort of donations and move them to India,” Sultan said.
All this comes as air cargo has reached record levels after flights around the world halted when the pandemic first took hold. The International Air Transport Association, an aviation trade organization, said in March it saw the highest levels of demand ever as the world's economy slowly began to pick up.
Per pound, costs for airfreight worldwide are up by some 75%, according to data provider WorldACM. That's as airlines like Emirates still have jumbo jets sitting on tarmacs, waiting for demand and international restrictions to lift to restart routes. Dozens of Emirates' double-decker Airbus A380s stood parked at the nearby Dubai World Central's Al Maktoum International Airport.
India Covid aid 'not reaching those in need'
Emergency relief is flowing into India to help stem its Covid-19 crisis, but concerns are mounting about delays in supply.Planeloads of ventilators, medicines and oxygen equipment began pouring into India, from countries including the UK and the US, at the start of last week. By Sunday, some 300 tonnes of supplies on 25 flights had arrived at Delhi International Airport alone.
Robert Blanchard, who oversees the emergency operation in Dubai for the WHO, praised Emirates for offering the free cargo flights. His warehouse continues to juggle aid for the coronavirus while shipping out gear for cholera and Ebola outbreaks with just eight staffers. He warned that while countries in the West and in the UAE enjoyed quicker access to vaccines, what India faces serves a warning to the rest of the world.
“There’s a long way to go before we get back to normal," Blanchard said. "And although the vaccines offer a lot of promise, what we’re seeing is that the quantities that are available and the rate of distribution is simply not enough to handle the pandemic.”
Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.
Misinformation surges amid India's COVID-19 calamity .
NEW DELHI (AP) — The man in the WhatsApp video says he has seen it work himself: A few drops of lemon juice in the nose will cure COVID-19. “If you practice what I am about to say with faith, you will be free of corona in five seconds,” says the man, dressed in traditional religious clothing. "This one lemon will protect you from the virus like a vaccine.” False cures. Terrifying stories of vaccine side effects. Baseless claims that Muslims spread the virus. Fueled by anguish, desperation and distrust of the government, rumors and hoaxes are spreading by word of mouth and on social media in India, compounding the country's humanitarian crisis.