With UAE’s support, Yemen’s war victims get a healing touch in India

Mansoor Ali Mastor, 28, from Hodeidah, Yemen, who lost both his legs to a landmine blast, being treated in Delhi for four months. (AN photo by Sanjay Kumar)
Updated 31 July 2019

With UAE’s support, Yemen’s war victims get a healing touch in India

  • In two years, more than 1,000 have been brought to New Delhi for treatment

NEW DELHI: Mansoor Ali Mastor’s quiet demeanor hides the fire inside. His amputated legs have not dampened his spirit to go to the battlefield again. He is now waiting for his artificial legs to be fitted so that he can stand.

The 28-year-old farmer is from Hodeidah, a district in the northwest of Yemen. Late last year he gave up farming, as Houthi rebels planted landmines in his field, and joined the army to fight the Iranian-backed militia. His father was kidnapped and kept in captivity for a year. In March this year, as he was walking down the street leading to his house, a landmine claimed both his legs. 

For the past four months he has been at New Delhi’s Medeor hospital.

“The Houthis have planted bombs not only in the fields but also in our kitchen. For us living is a daily challenge,” Mastor said.

“I am just waiting for my artificial legs to fit, so I can go back home and fight. I am really thankful to the UAE government for giving me new hope in life, and grateful to the Medeor hospital for nurturing me.”

Twenty-one-year-old Helmi Mahfoodh is also taking treatment for his badly injured leg in Medeor. Hailing from Al-Wazaia in Taiz District in Yemen, Mahfoodh’s left leg was badly injured by a landmine when he was fighting the Houthis. 

After spending four months in hospital, he is waiting to fly back home.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The UAE has been funding the treatment, and India has been facilitating the process, by issuing visas to the injured and those accompanying them.

• Helping the UAE is the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a humanitarian group which helps people in the conflict zone.

• Some of the injuries were so complex that the doctors at the Medeor hospital had to perform multiple surgeries.

“We are grateful to Saudi Arabia and the UAE for standing by the people of Yemen,” he said. He, too, was considering becoming a farmer, but “Houthi insurgency has destabilized our lives. We need to eliminate them for the future of Yemen.”

In the last two years more than 1,000 injured people from Yemen — both soldiers and civilians — have been brought to New Delhi for treatment. Some of the injuries were so complex that the doctors at the Medeor hospital had to perform multiple surgeries.

The UAE government has been funding the treatment, and India has been facilitating the process, by issuing visas to the injured people and those accompanying them.

“The UAE has strong bilateral ties and cooperation with India, and health care is one of the most important areas of collaboration,” said Dr. Ahmed Al-Banna, the UAE’s ambassador to India.

“The UAE government, as part of its international responsibility to humanitarian aid, chose the Medeor hospital as its partner to provide health care facilities to injured Yemeni people. Since July 2016 we have helped over 1,000 people from Yemen in India,” added Al-Banna at a press conference in Delhi last week.

Helping the UAE is the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a humanitarian group which helps people in the conflict zone.

Al-Banna says that the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis was doing its best to ensure there are no civilian casualties.

Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil, chairman and managing director of VPS Health Care, told Arab News: “The mission was initiated by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Shaikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

“We are extremely privileged that the UAE government has trusted us to send Yemeni patients to our hospital for treatment. We have formed a special team of specialist doctors and nurses,” he added.


World’s biggest literature festival kicks off in Jaipur

Updated 24 January 2020

World’s biggest literature festival kicks off in Jaipur

  • Economist and Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee will attend the event

JAIPUR: The 13th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) started on Thursday.

Known as the “greatest literary show on earth,” the five-day event brings to one venue more than 500 speakers of 15 Indian and 35 foreign languages, and over 30 nationalities.

Among the festival’s participants are Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.

The event has been expanding, with over 400,000 people attending it last year and even more expected to show up this time.  The growing crowd has made the medieval Diggi Palace, which hosts it, look small, and organizers are planning to shift the event to a bigger venue next year.

Scottish historian and writer William Dalrymple, one of the organizers, said: “The first time we came to the Diggi Palace in 2007, 16 people turned up for the session of which 10 were Japanese tourists who walked out after 10 minutes, as they had come to the wrong place. Things have improved a little since then. We are now formally the largest literature festival in the world.”

Dalrymple, who has extensively written on medieval India and South Asia, has played a pivotal role in promoting the festival.

The other two organizers are its director, Sanjoy K. Roy, and writer Namita Gokhale, who along with Dalrymple made the JLF become one of the most sought-after events in India.

“Why has the literary festival taken off in this country in this extraordinary way? It goes back to the tradition of spoken literature, the celebration of literature orally through the spoken word has deep roots in this country,” Dalrymple said.

“So the idea that a literary festival is a foreign import is something that can’t be maintained. We’ve tapped into something very deep here. Literature is alive and is loved in India,” he said.

Inaugurating the festival’s 13th edition, celebrated British mathematician Marcus du Sautoy said: “Every number has its own particular character in the story of mathematics. For me it is 13; 13 is a prime number, an indivisible number, and the JLF is certainly a festival in its prime.”

The festival this year is taking place amid a raging debate about India’s new citizenship legislation and mass agitation on the issue of preserving the secular fabric of the nation.

Reflecting on the prevailing mood in the country, Roy, in his opening remarks, said: “We are now faced with a situation where we see a spread of the narrative of hatred. Literature is the one thing that can push back against it and so can be the arts. All of us have a responsibility to do so and this is not the time to be silent anymore.”

Gokhale said: “Ever since its inception 13 years ago, we at the Jaipur Literary Festival have tried to give a voice to our plural and multilingual culture. We live in a nation which is defined by its diversity, and it is our effort to present a range of perspectives, opinions, and points of view, which together build up a cross-section of current thinking.”

She added: “We seek mutual respect and understanding in our panels — it is important to us that these often conflicting ideas are respectfully presented and heard. We also resist predictable and self-important all-male panels, and try to ensure that the vital voices of women resonate through all aspects of our programming.”

One of the attractions of the event this year is the presence of Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee, who won the prize in economics last year.

There are also panel discussions on Kashmir, the Indian constitution and history.

The prevailing political situation in South Asia is also reflected by the absence of Pakistani. Before, popular Pakistani authors would attend the JLF, but delays in visa issuance and a hostile domestic environment forced the organizers to “desist from extending invitations.”