ABU DHABI, 28th April, 2016 (WAM) – The Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) on Wednesday laid the foundation stone for a housing city for thousands of people affected by cyclones Chapala and Meg which hit the Yemeni island of Socotra last October and November, respectively. The cyclones caused heavy rains and strong winds that seriously damaged or destroyed houses and services facilities.

Mohammed Yousuf Al Fahim, ERC Deputy Secretary-General for Support Services, led a delegation to the ground-breaking ceremony which was also attended by Brigadier Salem Abdullah Isa, Governor of Socotra, and a number of senior officials.

ERC Secretary General Dr. Mohammed Ateeq Al Falahi said the project, which comes in implementation of instructions given by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan with the support of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and follow up of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region and Chairman of the ERC, will include 220 housing units to shelter hurricane-effected islanders who will enjoy health, educational and basic services.

”The city is considered a qualitative, paradigm shift in the ERC’s development initiatives in the Indian Ocean archipelago which is facing tremendous humanitarian and developmental challenges as a result of natural catastrophes,” Al Falahi added.

He said the city will be completed by the end of the year.

Brigadier Salem Abdullah Isa, Governor of Socotra, said the ERC response to the humanitarian situation in the island has been effective and more than expected in brining life to a pre-cycle state.

He noted that the island was badly in need of the ERC’s initiatives in areas of relief, healthcare, educational, water and electricity and other essential services following the damage to facilities meted out by cyclones.

The ERC, he noted, was leading the humanitarian initiatives in the island because of its field presence and close monitoring of the situation in the island.

He thanked the ERC for launching humanitarian initiatives that contributed to improving the living conditions of the islanders.

”The ERC is one of the key partners in the reconstruction efforts in the island, he said in conclusion.

Al Fahim said the housing project is part of a co-operation agreement the ERC signed with the Governorate of Socotra to fund and implement a number of development and reconstruction projects.

”The WRC will spare no effort in helping the Yemeni brothers to improve their humanitarian conditions,” he stressed.

The delegation also distributed humanitarian assistance and food. Fishermen in the island received boats instead of ones damaged by cyclones.

The ERC is currently working on maintaining the fish market and building a breakwater to protect the island from cyclones.