Iran: UN health agency seeks $3.5 million to help quake victims

Iran: UN health agency seeks $3.5 million to help quake victims

With cold night temperatures, inadequate water and sanitation, and insufficient care for the injured posing serious risks for the survivors of Iran's devastating earthquake, the United Nations health agency has appealed for $3.5 million to buy supplies and rehabilitate health facilities to prevent further sickness and deaths.

"The profound tragedy of thousands of people killed has caused emotional and psychological trauma for the tens of thousands of people who have survived," the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Lee Jong-wook, said yesterday. "It is now imperative to ensure their mental and physical well-being to the fullest extent possible during this fragile period."

To date, at least 20,000 people have died as a result of Friday's quake, which devastated the city of Bam. Approximately 50,000 were injured, 11,000 of whom have been admitted to hospitals, and an estimated 70,000 were left homeless.

On the ground, the humanitarian response to the earthquake is shifting from search and rescue, emergency medical intervention and evacuation to relief assistance and determination of future needs. As of Tuesday, more than 10 search and rescue teams had left the area, while medical teams are arriving, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

OCHA today announced plans to launch a UN flash appeal on 8 January to help Iran, addressing relief, recovery and early rehabilitation needs for the next three months. The effort will also prepare the ground for longer-term rehabilitation and development.

At least 1,400 relief flights have landed since 26 December. Most immediate needs are being addressed, with priority attention to shelter and sanitation. UN disaster experts have been in the area since last week helping to coordinate relief efforts. Tents, which are flown in daily, are being rapidly distributed, along with other supplies such as blankets and heaters.