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Qatar giving $30m to help Harvey victims in Texas

Published: September 08, 2017 13:20:59 | Updated: October 23, 2017 23:32:52


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Qatar is donating $30 million to help people in Texas recover from Harvey, its ambassador said Thursday, amid a diplomatic crisis with its neighbours.

 

The contribution appears to be the largest from a foreign government to assist with the hurricane that devastated stretches of the Texas coast.

 

It came the same day that the United Arab Emirates, one of Qatar's opponents in the Persian Gulf dispute, announced its own $10 million to help Harvey victims.

 

Both donations were announced as the leader of Kuwait, which has been mediating the Qatar crisis, was in Washington discussing the dispute with President Donald Trump and other American officials.

 

Qatar pledged the funds through the newly created Qatar Harvey Fund, which Ambassador Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani said would work with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, local organisations and other Texas officials including the Houston mayor. The funds will be used "to help rebuild communities" affected by flooding.

 

Abbott, the governor, said he was "amazed and humbled" at how people from around the world had shown support for Texas after the hurricane. Several other countries have offered far smaller amounts along with non-monetary assistance.

 

"Texas and Qatar have a longstanding partnership, and I thank the government of Qatar for their generosity and support for Texas and our citizens as we begin the long road to recovery," Abbott said.

 

The Texas governor issued a similar statement earlier Thursday praising the UAE for its donation.

 

Qatar has worked assiduously in recent months to improve its image in the United States, especially after Trump blasted the close US partner on Twitter and from the Rose Garden for funding extremism.

 

Those comments fuelled the perception that Trump was siding against Qatar in a bitter feud with four neighbours that has festered for months.

 

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE cut ties to Qatar in June over allegations it allows a permissive climate for funding extremists, foments opposition elsewhere in the region and maintains too close ties to Iran. Qatar firmly denies those allegations.

 

Since the crisis broke out, both sides have launched aggressive public relations campaigns in the US, hiring communications firms and placing ads to make their case to policymakers.

 

Qatar has emphasised its role as a key US security partner. The country hosts thousands of US troops and a major base that's key for the campaigns in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

 

Harvey killed at least 70 people in a storm system that escalated to a Category 4 hurricane before striking Texas last month, dropping 52 inches of rain over the Houston area.

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