Note: The following appeal is now closed. You can support our ongoing work by donating to the Canadian Red Cross
By Suzanne Charest in Bam, Iran
Ambassadors, heads of United Nations (UN) agencies, journalists and government officials descended on Bam today for a whirlwind tour of the stricken city and a visit to the Iranian Red Crescent Operations Centre.
Obviously moved, Federation president, Juan Manuel Suarez del Toro said: “I am deeply shocked at the extent of the damage that I have seen today and my heart goes out to all those who continue to suffer here.”
In a spirit of cooperation, the International Federation and UN jointly launched their appeals for relief and recovery programs for quake-stricken Bam at a ceremony in a giant warehouse constructed in the last 48 hours to support the relief operation.
“This is the first time we have jointly launched an emergency appeal with the UN,” said Suarez del Toro. “I hope that this act of humanitarian solidarity will be appreciated by the donor community as we seek to avoid duplication of efforts and work more closely together to serve the needs of the most vulnerable.”
The International Federation is appealing for $42 million to support the Iranian Red Crescent Society operation to assist up to 210,000 people for about eight months. The operation will help provide basic food, shelter and other essential relief supplies to 150,000 people. Efforts to prevent outbreaks of water-borne-epidemics will be made through the continued provision of water and sanitation facilities and building of latrines.
Funds raised will also help restore the primary health care and hospital referral services in the region. With the support of the European Community Humanitarian Office, a 240-bed Red Cross Red Crescent hospital is already in place along with three satellite clinics. The appeal envisages financial support for these services along with mobile clinics, a 30-bed rehabilitation centre and unit to provide psychological support to both earthquake victims and relief workers.
“We cannot ever begin to comprehend what the people of Bam have experienced,” says Jan Egeland, the UN Under Secretary General. “I am more touched by what I see here than any other place I have visited recently. There are so many people who have lost countless relatives in this catastrophe.”
He also congratulated the Iranian Red Crescent members for their incredible work, including their local Bam branch that, in spite of losing four of its seven staff, responded within minutes of the quake.
The UN is appealing for $40 million (CAD) to support food, shelter, water and sanitation, protection and long-term reconstruction programs in Bam.
“We have seen an incredible level of cooperation among the international community during this operation,” says Dr. Ahmad Ali Noorbala, President of the Iranian Red Crescent Society. “Even on New Year’s Day there were international relief flights arriving in Bam. We wish to express our heartfelt thanks to the UN, International Federation and all those donors who will respond to this appeal.”
“The spirit of humanity goes beyond politics, religion, regionalism and shows how we can unite the world,” Dr. Kamal Kharrazi, the Iranian Foreign Minister. “The Iranian people have witnessed first hand this sense of unity through the abundance of international assistance provided during the last two weeks.”
Some 350 relief flights arrived in Iran since the quake struck on 26 December. In the first three days, more than 1,600 foreign relief workers from 36 countries arrived to help. Some 1,700 Iranian Red Crescent staff and volunteers continue to work day and night supporting rescue and relief programs.
“The size of this disaster calls for long-term humanitarian action,” says Dr. Abdul Raliman, President, Saudi Arabia Red Crescent. “I am here to offer our condolences to our brothers (?) in the Iranian Red Crescent, visit our field hospital and participate in the launch of the Federation’s appeal.”
“I have never seen such devastation as here today in Bam,” says Philip MacKinnon, the Canadian Ambassador to Iran. “It is truly amazing that so many people were rescued by the survivors and rescue teams.”
Volunteers from the IRCS alone rescued more than 11,000 people from the rubble.
International Federation President Suarez del Toro, UN Under Secretary General Eglend, Iranian Red Crescent President Noorbala and Kerman Governor Karemi joined Iranian Foreign Minister Kharrazi and more than a dozen foreign ambassadors from Tehran who participated in the launch and visited Iranian Red Crescent Society headquarters, the medical facilities and the Federation field hospital.
Iran is the fourth most disaster prone country in the world. Since 1919 the International Federation has launched 35 emergency appeals in response to disasters in Iran. “This is the highest number of appeals we have launched for any single country,” says Suarez de Toro. “They have all received a very generous response from the world community and we are confident that donors will respond fully to the appeal we are launching today here in Bam.”