Iran - Earthquake OCHA Situation Report No. 14

Situation Report
Originally published


Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2004/0017
OCHA Situation Report No. 14
Iran - Earthquake
Occurred on 26 December 2003

Flash Appeal is covered by 45.9%. Donors are kindly requested to provide more support to unmet requirements.

This report is based on information provided by the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Tehran and OCHA Headquarters.

General Situation

1. Official revised government figures as of 9 February 2004 indicate:

  • approx. 43,200 dead
  • approx. 15,000 under medical treatment, of whom 4,000 have been evacuated to neighboring cities and Kerman and 11,000 evacuated to other parts of Iran and
  • approx. 75,600 displaced (14,730 households), feared to rise up to 90,000.
  • approx. 2,000 orphans, of which 1,228 in Bam.
  • approx. 25,000 houses have been destroyed in the city of Bam. In addition, 24,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged in the rural areas.
2. Before the earthquake, the population of Bam city and surrounding villages was estimated at 125,000. Due to relatives coming to stay with families of survivors, the overall number of civilians presently in Bam and surrounding villages is estimated to be approx. 200,000. This number is expected to decrease as those who had been living with their relatives will leave.

3. No epidemic of communicable diseases has been reported.

Immediate humanitarian needs

4. Interim shelter for the affected families and restoration of basic services (schools, hospitals, water supply etc.) will have to be undertaken on priority by concerned agencies. There is also an urgent need for installation of latrines and showers.


5. The Bam Task Force (BTF) has strongly emphasized that renewal and approval of any visa for a continued stay of NGOs will solely depend on submission of a detailed plan of action and weekly reports to the Government based on the accomplishment. In addition, close collaboration and coordination with relevant governmental authorities and particularly with the Task force is requested.

6. The authorities have additionally asked the International NGOs to submit their detailed plans for any involvement in provision of temporary/permanent shelters (urban/rural). Otherwise, the Government will have to plan to build shelters through its own resources, which in turn will reduce the need of International NGOs involvement in this sector.

Implementation of the Flash Appeal

7. Since the launch of the Flash Appeal (FA) for the most immediate needs of the victims of the Bam earthquake on 8 January, the following activities have been conducted in line with the FA:

Food and logistics

8. The Iranian Red Cross Society (IRCS) and several NGOs are currently distributing food to the affected population. WFP will start to distribute food on the third week of February. It has been agreed between WFP, the IRCS and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) that the IRCS is the WFP's implementing partner and responsible for storage, repacking and distribution of WFP commodities, while the IFRC will have an advisory and technical support role. Monitoring will be undertaken jointly by WFP, the IRCS and the IFRC.

9. Bam city and its suburbs have been divided into 14 districts: each district is run by a provincial IRCS, which is responsible for registration of beneficiaries and distribution of food. Each zone is divided into 3 to 8 sub-sections. Each district has 1 to 3 distribution points, which are not enough to reach all registered beneficiaries. Female-headed households, orphans, elderly and people living in remote areas have the greatest difficulties in reaching distribution points.

10. To ease storage capacity constraints, WFP sent four mobile storage tents from its emergency warehouse in Brindisi. The storage tents have been handed over to the IRCS.

11. With funding from OCHA, WFP, UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), is operating a passenger aircraft to provide transport services for the UN staff, NGOs relief workers and donor representatives from Tehran to Kerman and Bam. As of 26 January, the UNHAS flight has had an occupancy rate of 85%. Efforts are being made to extend the UNHAS services, since the service is so frequently used by relief workers, but also by embassy representatives and other partners.

Water and Sanitation

12. Installation of latrines and showers in the city has become a priority for the Government authorities. It has been estimated that about 13,000 latrines have to be installed in various locations in the city. UNICEF has received 2,000 latrine slaps and plastic sheets which will be distributed to different NGOs working in Bam for installation. In the meantime, six NGOs have already installed 190 latrines and 148 showers in various zones (not including those installed by MSF). UNFPA provided USD 60,000 to ensure the installation of a total of 360 shower sanitary points throughout the city. In addition, five NGOs have distributed more than 10,000 hygiene kits in various zones.

13. The Water Company of Kerman took action immediately to repair the water distribution system in the city of Bam. However, when water had been restored to around 50% of the area of the city, the pressure was so low that it barely could flow from ground-level tap-stands. As the supply pressure was raised, many more leaks became apparent. Thus, many areas need central water tanks, which are filled by tankers, and people procure their water with individual containers. It has been suggested that most, if not all, of the system will require complete replacement. The rural water supply system endured similar damage.

Health and Nutrition

14. Surveillance, preparedness and response mechanism for communicable diseases has been established with support from WHO. No incidence of communicable diseases has been reported. A minimum replenishment of emergency national health resources that has been deployed to Bam from surrounding cities and provinces is required. Assessment activities based on the indicators is up to now satisfactory in terms of reducing mortality and morbidity rates and restoring health services.

15. UNICEF has formulated a program for the implementation of activities in growth monitoring and care focusing the needs of children under five years old and pregnant women. UNICEF is bringing in technical experts to develop a plan for revitalization of routine for immunization programmes among children under five and for the re-establishment of the vaccination cold chain in Bam. The funding for these urgent needs should be sought from the donor community.


16. It is estimated that there are approx. 2,000 orphans in Bam city and surrounding areas, of which 1,228 in Bam. Another 5,000 children are believed to have lost either of their parents. 230 handicapped and 816 widows are registered. UNICEF has continued to provide non-food basic-needs supplies for vulnerable groups in Bam, especially children and women, and families headed by women.

17. The Ministry of Health is focusing on outreach programmes, which include visits to the tents/camps, group counseling and individual psychological/psychiatric treatment with referrals to other services. UNICEF and four NGOs are supporting the activities of the Ministry of Health on psychosocial activities.

18. The welfare organizations have established five kindergartens, and are planning to establish additional 16 in Bam and 20 in surrounding areas. In addition, 10 child-care centers are planned. Social and relief work, community organizing and group counseling are also being conducted in the communities. There is an urgent need for tents and supplies for these child-care centers.

19. Three homes for orphaned children in Bam were also destroyed, with only 27 out of 75 children surviving the disaster. The orphaned children have been transferred to Tehran, Kerman and Shiraz and elsewhere, requiring massive tracing and reunification programmes, including the provision of care and protection in a family environment. UNICEF has earlier provided essential equipment necessary for the operation of the tracing programme.

20. UNHCR is reinforcing its presence in Bam to better assist Afghan refugees, who are facing greater challenges in accessing humanitarian aid. Most of them had lost their ID cards during the quake and cannot prove their refugee status. 3,300 Afghan refugees were registered with UNHCR before the earthquake, while authorities say around 1,500 refugees were killed by the earthquake. 671 Afghans has returned to Afghanistan under the assistance of UNHCR. Another 160 have already been registered for the next return. Many more returned spontaneously.


21. Until now, 27 temporary schools with 8,200 children have been established. Approximately 20,000 students are expected to return to schools. In addition 2,400 teachers area also expected to return to work.

22. The priority identified by the Government is to create 1) specialized dormitories for the homeless students, 2) temporary classrooms and educational complexes, and 3) accommodations for teachers who lost their houses.

23. UNICEF has provided the authorities in Bam with 16 large inflatable tents to be used as temporary classrooms in 26 pre-selected school sites as well as some 300 "School-in-a-Box" kits and some recreational kits. In addition, UNICEF is providing two mobile libraries to be used in Bam as well as technical support in planning, coordination and content-building of school-based counseling for children.

24. Within the next 2 weeks, UNICEF will support a workshop for about 100 teachers on activity-based teaching skills, which is a much needed skill for teachers in Bam, to engage students to return to normal curriculum-based schooling through a soft entry.

25. Since 19 January, a task force established with support from UNESCO has been updating the statistics on teachers, students and homeless children who lost their parents, and helped establish 27 temporary classes with 8,200 children registered in primary, lower secondary and high School levels. The taskforce also obtained support from the Government to its proposals, and arranged programmes of training sessions for trainers and managers.

Cultural heritage

26. UNESCO has sent a mission to prepare an international assessment of the damages to ARG-e-Bam and draw up a plan of action.

Economic recovery, Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Reconstruction

27. The Government is expected to finalize the plan for reconstruction of Bam in the next two weeks as the assessments are completed by experts. The officials estimate that there is about 12 million tons of debris that have to be removed. The Government has requested the international community for heavy duty machinery to remove debris.

28. In the agricultural recovery sector, FAO has completed an in-depth assessment of the damages caused by the earthquake to local farmers and plantation owners in Bam. Date plantation owners, mostly small-scale farmers, and families depending on livestock production are among the worst hit. The food security of these small-scale farmers and livestock breeders is threatened, as they are now dependant on food aid.

29. It is expected that a UNDP project of restoration of water supply infrastructure for dates plantations will start to be implemented in the second week of February 2004 with technical support from FAO. Active discussions ongoing to identify areas in which UN/INGOs can support the Ministry of Agriculture for restoration of water supply systems, coordination and impregnation of the trees, and arrangements to look after the plantations of the families where no one has arrived; efforts are made to identify experienced farmers who could be assigned to look after these plantations.

30. A number of technical workshops on reconstruction are planned to take place this month. In consultation with the Government, an international conference on Reconstruction of Bam and a workshop on lessons learned from the Bam earthquake are also planned.


31. The Bam Task Force (BTF) has informed UN/NGOs that the needs for intermediate shelter for Bam and its surrounding villages will be 25,000 for Bam city and 5,000 for nearby 8 villages directly affected (in surrounding villages, reconstruction is needed for 24,000 houses in total).

32. A total of 16,200 prefabricated shelters have been ordered by the authorities, and 800 container houses has been provided by Turkey (preparation underway to set up a camp) and 1,000 used prefabs will be provided by Tehran city as part of the intermediate shelter program for Bam city. Presently there is a shortfall of 12,000 intermediate shelters.

33. There is a plan to establish 13 camps (the number may increase) with schools, health centers, and offices for local authorities, playgrounds for children, pharmacy, etc. The camp population will vary from 100 - 1,500 by shelter unit. The total requirement is based on the previous population, estimated at 125,000, and even if there is only one survivor in a family they will be included in the need for a shelter unit.

34. The Ministry of Interior facilitated a meeting of UN agencies and NGOs on 7 February with a view to review the type of intermediate shelter and technologies for rural and urban areas. The Deputy Minister of Interior has requested all agencies to support the Government with the construction of intermediate as well as permanent shelter. The Ministry of Interior has assured all support to UN/NGOs.

35. With regard to temporary shelter for Afghan refugees, UNHCR is awaiting from the authorities their agreement to accommodate Afghans together with Iranian victims.

Coordination and Security

36. OCHA has deployed a Liaison Officer in Tehran to assist the Resident Coordinator, UNDMT agencies and international NGOs on all aspects of coordination, liaison, the implementation of the Flash Appeal and information management related to the Bam operation.

37. The UN team in Bam presently consists of UNICEF, WFP, WHO, UNHCR and OCHA, with a total of 28 international and national staff. Coordination meetings take place twice a week, with the recent meetings focusing on finalizing the re-organization of the UN/NGO camp. The sector coordination meetings (Health, Water and Sanitation, Psycho Social/Child Protection, Shelter, Relief/NFI) are being conducted with similar frequency.

38. Six prefabricated units for UN office accommodation in Bam are being set up. The WFP Office has moved from actual tents to three of the six prefabricated units. The remaining three units will be used by other agencies, such as OCHA, UNDP and for the 24hrs radio room. The Norwegian Civil Defense Force has put up additional tents to complete the UN camp accommodation in Bam.

39. The Ministry of Interior advises international staff not to travel at night in the city. Specific measures (ID cards, filtering of visitors by police) have been taken to ensure the security of international staff in and around the compound.

40. A VHF system and 24-hour radio coverage is in place. Five radio operators are being recruited to run the operations and a HF base should be installed in the camp before the end of the week. Agencies are also looking into the recruitment of a security warden/ night watchman due to recent security concerns at the camp.

Status of the coverage of the Flash Appeal

41. The coverage of the Flash Appeal as of 6 February is 45.9 %. The coverage by sector is as follows:

Requirements (US$)
Contributions and Pledges (US$)
Food and Logistics
Water and Sanitation
Health and Nutrition
Cultural Heritage
Economic Recovery, Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Reconstruction
Coordination and Security
Awaiting allocation to specific projects

42. Donors are kindly requested to provide more support to the unmet requirements of the Flash Appeal. The table of the contributions by donor is attached.

43. For further information on the contributions for the Flash Appeal as well as on those outside the Flash Appeal, an update is available on Financial Tracking at the top of the page for this disaster on the OCHA Internet Website ( Donors are requested to verify this table and inform OCHA Geneva of corrections/additions/values. The Flash Appeal document is also found on the Website.

44. OCHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions to be used for immediate relief assistance, in coordination with relevant organizations in the United Nations system. For banking details please refer to the OCHA Situation Report No. 13, or please contact the desk officers indicated below. OCHA provides donor governments with written confirmation and pertinent details concerning the utilization of the funds contributed.

45. OCHA is in close contact with the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Tehran and the UN team in Bam, and will revert with further information as it becomes available.

46. This situation report, together with further information on other ongoing emergencies is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers:
Mr. J. McGoldrick/ Ms. H. Kuttab /Mr. S. Nakajima
Direct Tel. +41-22-917 1712/ 3194/ 40 34

Press contact:
(in GVA) - Ms. Elizabeth Brys, direct Tel. +41-22-917 2653
(in N.Y.) - Mr. Brian Grogan, direct Tel.+1-212-963 11 43

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