Emergency flight brings medical supplies and shelter materials to affected regionKABUL, 28 December 2003 – Following the devastating earthquake that hit the city of Bam in south-east Iran on Friday 26th December, the Afghanistan office of the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has despatched urgently needed medical and shelter supplies to the stricken region today.
Working in close cooperation with colleagues in Iran, and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), UNICEF has today sent 72 emergency health and essential drug kits containing antibiotics, painkillers, ringer lactate solution, 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 UNICEF consignment also includes winter tents and plastic sheeting. In total, 5 metric tonnes of UNICEF supplies left Kabul on an emergency flight at 0800 hrs Sunday.
In addition to the supplies, UNICEF has also sent one of its senior Afghan health officers to Bam to help coordinate the organization’s response on the ground. The officer will arrive in the city today, and will support the local UNICEF team for at least two weeks.
Based on experience from previous earthquakes, not least the devastating quake that hit Badakhshan and Taqhar in Afghanistan in 1998, UNICEF fears for the health of children in the immediate aftermath of disasters such as that which struck Bam on Friday. In addition to injuries directly resulting from a quake, which include trauma and burns, the breakdown of basic sanitation and supply of clean water along with infection risks from decomposing bodies and seasonally low night-time temperatures can lead to outbreaks of disease including diarrhoea and acute respiratory infection (ARI). The provision of drugs and health supplies has an immediate, and long-lasting, impact on securing the health of families in the first days following an earthquake.
UNICEF remains in daily contact with colleagues in Tehran, and will monitor emerging needs and be ready to provide additional support wherever possible as part of the joint UN response to the tragedy. The supplies despatched today have been made available from UNICEF Afghanistan’s standby stocks of pre-packed emergency materials.
Speaking in Kabul today, UNICEF Officer-in-Charge for Afghanistan Reza Hossaini said “Our operation in Afghanistan received high levels of support from neighbouring countries during the post-emergency period here in late 2001 and early 2002. It is only natural that we should be amongst the first to return that support in this time of acute need in Iran.”
For more information, please contact:
Chulho Hyun, UNICEF Media – Kabul +93 (0)702 78493
Edward Carwardine, UNICEF Media – Kabul +93 (0)702 74729