Qatar is donating $30m to help people in Texas recover from Hurricane Harvey, its ambassador said; this is apparently the largest contribution from a foreign government to assist the devastated stretches of the Texas coast.
The Gulf nation pledged the funds through the newly created Qatar Harvey Fund, which Ambassador Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani said on Thursday would work with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, local organisations and other Texas officials including the Houston mayor.
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The funds will be used “to help rebuild communities” affected by flooding.
“Texans are stronger than any storm and will come back bigger and better, and Qatar stands ready to help our friends at every turn,” Al Thani said in a statement that emphasised the gas-rich country’s ties to Texas, including its consulate in Houston.
It came the same day that the United Arab Emirates, one of Qatar’s opponents in a diplomatic dispute in the Gulf, announced its own $10m donation to help Harvey victims.
Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE cut ties with 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 the allegations.
‘Amazed and humbled’
Several other countries have offered smaller amounts along with non-monetary assistance.
Abbott, the governor, said he was “amazed and humbled” at how people from around the world had shown support for Texas after the hurricane.
“Texas and Qatar have a long-standing 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.
Qatar has emphasised its role as a key US security partner. The country hosts thousands of US troops and a major base that is key for the military 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 more than a metre of rain over the Houston area. Abbott has said recovery could cost as much as $180bn.
Qatar opened a consulate in Texas in 1997 and also has ties to the state’s natural gas industry. The country says more than 450 Qataris live there. Doha, the Qatari capital, hosts a satellite campus of Texas A&M University.