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Double usual number of donors helping with Iran quake relief, UN official says

Jan Egeland

12 January - Iran has gathered an unprecedented number of donors responding to a Flash Appeal for funds to cover 90 days of humanitarian aid after last month's devastating earthquake, the United Nations relief coordinator said today.

Though he did not yet know the precise total contributed so far, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Jan Egeland, told a news conference at UN headquarters that instead of the usual 30 donors, Iran had gathered pledges from 60 countries, with generous contributions coming from the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The Flash Appeal, launched last Thursday by nine UN agencies and programmes, seeks $31.3 million, earmarked for such needs in the hard-hit Bam area as shelter, food, water and sanitation. Belgium convened a meeting of the donors earlier today.

Iran had cooperated in an exemplary way with international rescue teams, Mr. Egeland said, permitting some 1,700 workers from 40 countries to land without visas and, sometimes, even without passports.

"The search and rescue and immediate emergency phase is now over," he said, adding that Iran was in the intermediate relief, recovery and immediate rehabilitation phase, which would be followed by long-term rehabilitation expected to cost between $700 million and $1 billion.

He said that in his 20 years of experience in humanitarian relief organizations, Iran had mounted one of the most efficient and effective disaster responses he had seen.

With regard to the international response, some kinds of assistance had arrived in amounts that were too large and some that were too little. "We must calibrate more carefully in the future," he observed.

The head of the UN delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Encho Gospodinov, said the Federation had invested heavily in the local capacity of the Iranian Red Crescent Society. It had also introduced a fairly new aspect to its programme - psychological support for hundreds of thousands of traumatized survivors.

The IFRC had learned a great deal from an Armenian earthquake disaster 15 years ago, and, as a result, Iran's Red Crescent was trained and mandated to assist as many as 600,000 people if a catastrophe hit the country, he said.

... Payvand News - 1/13/04 ... --

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