Australia thanks UAE for helping fight bushfires - GulfToday

Australia thanks UAE for helping fight bushfires


Smoke from bushfires rises at Penrose in Australia’s New South Wales state on Friday. Agence France-Presse

Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison has thanked the UAE for offering support to help fight bushfires and rebuild the damage they have caused.

In a tweet, Mr. Morrison said, “Thank you UAE for your condolences and offers of support.” Morrison’s tweet came in response to the phone call of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who offered necessary expertise, equipment, manpower and other forms of support to help fight bushfires.

Humanitarian organisations are joining forces to raise funds and help those impacted by the unprecedented bush fires raging across Australia.

Reem Bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, stated, “A grassroots movement is growing in the UAE community to support Australia at this time. Burj Khalifa, Etihad Airways, Emirates Airlines and many others are showing that ‘#mateshelpmates.’’ Al Hashemy held talks with the Australian Minister of Home Affairs, the Hon Peter Dutton, and heads of other entities in Australia, to coordinate with them in this regard and determine the type of support needed.

Dr. Mohammed Ateeq Al Falahi, Emirates Red Crescent Secretary-General, said that discussions had been held with the Australian Red Cross on how best to help those who had lost loved ones, homes, and livelihoods as a result of the fires burning across Australia.

The two organisations had decided to launch an appeal across the Emirates to raise funds for bush fire victims, Al Falahi said.

“Our Leadership is always keen to help those in need during difficult times. I thank the community living in the UAE in advance for any contribution they can make for our friends in Australia,’’ Al Falahi said.

The joint appeal comes just a day after His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, discussed the fires in a telephone call to Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia, and told him the UAE was ready to support the Australian people under the guidance of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region.

The Acting Ambassador in the Australian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, Julie Shams, said she was humbled by the support that Australia has received in the UAE. “I’m very grateful to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed, and all UAE entities for their kind offers of support, and I know all Australians will be touched by this generosity from our friends on the other side of the world.”

According to AFP report, gale-force winds in Australia merged two enormous fires into a megablaze spanning an area four times the size of Greater London on Friday, while tens of thousands rallied to again demand action on climate change.

“The conditions are difficult today,” said Shane Fitzsimmons, rural fire service commissioner for New South Wales state, after days of relative calm.

“It’s the hot, dry winds that will prove once again to be the real challenge.”

Temperatures soared above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of New South Wales and neighbouring Victoria, where attention was focused on the two fires that linked to form yet another monster blaze of more than 600,000 hectares.

Fire service spokesman Anthony Bradstreet told AFP it is believed the blaze was sparked by dry lightning.

A “state of disaster” was extended 48 hours ahead of Friday’s forecast of scorching temperatures, and evacuation orders were issued for areas around the New South Wales-Victoria border.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there were more than 130 fires burning in the state, with just over 50 not yet under control.

On Kangaroo Island off South Australia, the largest town was cut off as firefighters battled dangerous infernos, forcing some residents to flee to the local jetty.

The catastrophic bushfires have killed at least 26 people, destroyed more than 2,000 homes and scorched some ten million hectares (100,000 square kilometres) — an area larger than South Korea or Portugal.

University of Sydney scientists estimate one billion mammals, birds and reptiles have been killed in the fires.

The Insurance Council of Australia estimated losses from the fires have so far totalled Aus$939 (US$645) million.

The severe conditions have been fuelled by a prolonged drought and worsened by climate change, with experts warning that such massive blazes were becoming more frequent and intense.

Australia experienced its driest and hottest year on record in 2019, with its highest average maximum temperature of 41.9 degrees Celsius recorded in mid-December.


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