United Nations agencies are rushing tons of relief supplies to Iran to help victims of Friday's earthquake near the city of Bam, where up to 30,000 people may have been killed, 20,000 injured and 70,000 left homeless, according to a preliminary assessment.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has sent over 45 tons of supplies, including health care kits and blankets for the tens of thousands of children affected by the massive disaster.
One relief flight from the agency's global supply centre in Copenhagen was bringing in first aid and health supplies capable of treating 120,000 people; dozens of special obstetric and surgical kits each sufficient to assist in the delivery of 150 babies; 14,000 blankets, including 7,600 for babies; 625,000 water purification tablets; 16 community water tanks with a capacity of 5,000 litres each; three portable generators; and tents, tarpaulin, rope and other shelter supplies. The shipment is valued at approximately $285,000.
The second flight from UNICEF operations in neighbouring Afghanistan brought in 72 emergency health and essential drug kits containing antibiotics, painkillers, syringes, injectables, drips and other equipment to enable health workers on the ground to establish small medical clinics capable of providing minor surgery.
Each kit contains enough supplies to cover the emergency health needs of 10,000 people for up to three months. The consignment also includes winter tents and plastic sheeting. UNICEF also sent one of its senior Afghan health officers to Bam to help coordinate the response on the ground.
Speaking from Kabul, UNICEF's Reza Hossaini recalled how during its own emergencies, Afghanistan had received a great deal of support from its neighbours. “It is only natural that we should be amongst the first to return that support in this time of acute need in Iran.”
For its part, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (IUNHCR) has sent $140,000 worth of aid including 1,000 tents, 10,000 blankets and 3,000 mattresses.
Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) today sent blankets, emergency kits, water purification units and jerry cans to the area. The agency is also planning to fly in 40 tons of high-energy biscuits tomorrow from the UN Humanitarian Response Depot in Brindisi, Italy.
A joint UN assessment team in Bam on Saturday found that up to 90 per cent of all buildings in the city were significantly or totally damaged. With temperatures in the area falling below freezing at night, tents and blankets are essential to provide immediate relief.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) contributed $100,000 for relief and coordination efforts, supplementing $90,000 in cash immediately provided by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are furnishing medical and health supplies.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) pledged support in safeguarding the cultural heritage of Bam, one of the Iran’s most famous historical sites and home to the 2,000-year-old Arg-e-Bam Citadel. Considered to be the largest earthen structure in the world, the Citadel suffered extensive damage in the quake.