Commission Decision concerning humanitarian aid in favour of the people of Bam in south-eastern Iran affected by the earthquake of 26 December 2003

Situation Report
Originally published
Amount of decision: €6 200 000

Decision reference number: ECHO/IRN/BUD/2004/01000

Explanatory Memorandum

1 - Rationale, needs and target population:

1.1. - Rationale:

On December 26, 2003 at 05.27 local time an earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale struck the city of Bam in Iran's south eastern Kerman province. The epicentre of the earthquake, with a depth of 10km, hit just south of Bam centre, 180km from the provincial capital of Kerman and 975 km from Tehran. The area had a population of roughly 210 000 with Bam city home to an estimated 90 000 people.

The level of destruction is very high with the Government of Iran (GOI) estimating that up to 85% of buildings have been destroyed in the area, and the city of Bam itself has been flattened. The pattern of destruction is oval shaped (attached map - Annex II) with solidly built buildings damaged but still standing in the heavily affected areas, whilst poorly built buildings have collapsed much further away from the epicentre.

Since the earthquake struck in the early hours of the morning when most people were asleep and because the epicentre was close to the town and poor building standards were implemented, it has resulted in high levels of casualties and destruction.

1.2. - Identified needs:

The level of loss of lives and destruction is enormous. The number of deaths (see below) makes it the worst earthquake in the world for more than 27 years. There are massive needs that must be addressed.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the latest GOI figures released on 4 February, the earthquake resulted in:

- The deaths of 43 000 people and injured 30 000 residents.

- An estimated 45 000 people are homeless but this figure is expected to rise as high as 75 000 as people return after having fled to friends and relatives or are returned after being hospitalised outside of Bam.

Approximately 25 000 buildings have been destroyed out of 29 500 including private houses and public facilities in Bam city and surrounding villages.

Urgent relief needs were largely met due to the rapid domestic and international response. The Government of Iran and the Iranian Red Crescent led the internal response, whilst the international response was facilitated by the waiving of visa restrictions by the government. Massive international aid efforts followed with an UNDAC team providing coordination and other UN agencies, IFRC and a number of European national Red Cross societies and numerous Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) providing aid and assistance.

The response was rapid and immediate relief needs such as search and rescue activities, food, water, non-food items, emergency health care were provided.

There will be extensive rehabilitation activities required in the medium to longer term, but in the meantime, until reconstruction efforts start and yield results, basic humanitarian needs should continue to be addressed. It is estimated that in the next 5-10 months there will continue to be humanitarian needs, as it will take time for people to return to normal life and for the civil structures such as hospitals to be rebuilt and fully functioning. In the meantime continued aid is needed to sustain life and provide health and caring activities.

The UN agencies and the IFRC have put out significant appeals which are only 40% covered as of 5 February, perhaps partly due to fatigue and reduced media coverage. The gap between initial emergency response and longer term rehabilitation requirements needs to be addressed.

In particular, support in the sectors of health, water, sanitation and hygiene and psycho-social care with an emphasis on vulnerable groups especially children, the elderly and possibly Afghans, whether or not they are officially registered as refugees is required.