Thursday, January 22, 2004

Emma has now returned from the Middle East and will be posting a report of her time in Bam here shortly. In the meantime we have received this from Dr. Ahmadian Yazdi of AMAR in Bam:

I am happy to inform you that we have managed to set up our tiny clinic for children in BAFIA camp quite close to the Association for the children and youth intellectual affairs.

What we offered today was:
1. Immunization
2. Issuing children’s health cards for 22 children through a brief history talking and physically examination.
3. Holding an educational session under the topic of “Pediculosis” in which 10 women took part.
4. Providing parents with their required health consultation.

This was amazingly welcomed by the people and we think we will have pretty busy day tomorrow.

As for the UN camp, we need some support, medications and medical equipment’s so that we can set up an acceptable and standard clinic for our foreign friends.

Yours Sincerely,

Dr. Ahmadian Yazdi

Through Dr Yazdi we received this story from Hadiseh Nezam Abadi, an 11 year old girl in his care:

In the name of God The compassionate, the merciful: “ Once upon a time, there were a man and a woman. They had two children. A son and a daughter. They loved their children. They spent their days and nights, working hard to grow up their children. They sent their beloved offspring to school, dreaming a
happy life for them. They got happy, when their kids got good mark. One day the man and the woman went to the grandma’s house. They slept there. It was Thursday. On Friday at 5.20 AM the earth quake
occurred. My father, my mother, my uncle and my aunts all died. The son and the daughter were left alone. This story was about my mother, my father, my uncle and my aunts. I heartily say that I love them. I love you all.”

Hadiseh Nazem Abadi

Monday, January 12, 2004

More photos from Bam:

Emma with the 80 orphaned children she told us about on Saturday - AMAR will give full medical assessments and establish a paediatric clinic next door
Orphans photo

Emma with BAFIA representatives touring one of the tented cities housing the homeless
Tent city

The AMAR clinic in Bam
AMAR clinic

Hopefully more soon...

Also a link the British Government's site giving more information on the Bam earthquake.
We have recieved the following photo from Emma

This photo shows some of the AMAR aid convey that arrived in Bam
This convoy contained 50 tons of food aid as well as tents, clothes and other essentials.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

The latest update from Emma and her team in Iran:

Today I met the Deputy Governor General of Kerman province, which contains Bam, to discuss the reconstruction of the city.

What is currently being planning is a unique project: to re-build the entire city on a site that is close to Bam's current location, but safer from earthquakes. The Iranian government is currently surveying a number of sites in the Bam area to determine the levels of risk at each one.

Rebuilding the city will take at least 18 months, during which time temporary shelters will have to be found for the population. The survivors of the earthquake are currently living in tents, which provide no real protection from the extremes of the Iranian climate. They are at grave danger of an epidemic and further unnecessary deaths.

Providing this help will be a priority for AMAR over the coming months.

Bam was a World Heritage Site. Its citadel was, at 2,000 years old, the oldest mud brick building in the world. Currently only the outside walls of the citadel are still standing but UNESCO has decided to re-build this wonder of the world by salvaging and re-using the original materials.

AMAR will establish four clinics in Bam. As well as the emergency clinic and the children's clinic I described yesterday we are also starting to provide medical facilities to people sheltering in the UN compound. Our plans include another clinic to be established in an area of real need.

The cost of running each clinic for one year is around 75,000 dollars. This will treat around 200 patients a day, six days a week for an entire year and so represents enormous value for money. Please, if you can, do help towards providing this vital medical assistance.

With your help, AMAR will also seek to build permanent clinics and primary schools in the newly reconstructed city. Each clinic will cost roughly 100,000 dollars and each new school will cost 80,000 dollars. Again we desperately need your help to accomplish this work.

During this morning's meeting AMAR was congratulated on being the first charity into Bam, something we have accomplished due to the fact we only use locally employed staff and have, over many years, built a relationship of trust with the Iranian government. Because of this I am confident AMAR will continue to perform efficiently and effectively over the next few years as we work with the Iranian government to rebuilt Bam, and the lives of its people.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

While I was speaking to Emma in Bam about the last post there was another small after-shock. Although this did no damage it does show how unstable the situation still is.
Emma and her team have now arrived in Bam. We have just heard this from her.

Bam looks like it has been hit by a bomb. My first impression is that it is a miracle that anyone survived at all.

On arrival we went to the HQ and clinic that AMAR has established. This is based in a destroyed building, where none of the standing walls are over 6 feet high. Surrounded by rubble of what was presumably the rest of the building, and its neighbours, someone has put corrugated iron on the standing walls to make a roof.

AMAR posters, black to show our mourning for the people of Bam, point the way to the clinic, which has had a hundreds of patients a day since it opened, many with horrific crush injuries.

AMAR's doctor was introduced to an official from the Iranian Department of Culture, whose remit includes youth affairs, who had found 80 orphans amongst the rubble and sought out tents for them to live in.

AMAR's doctors have establish a children's clinic next to the orphan's tent that will give each one of them a full medical assessment, a patient record and immunisation. AMAR is also helping the Iranians to establish an adoption system to ensure these children will be found families. However this will take some time and in the meantime we are trying to find toys and other ways of helping these poor children to begin the process of recovery for the immense trauma they have suffered.

It is also striking how the work of one man, who just happened to be passing, can help save so many lives. In disasters such as Bam, for many this is the difference between life and death.

There is an urgent need for milk in Bam. Since the earthquakes virtually every mother's breast milk has dried up and so we urgently need powdered milk for the mothers to give them the strength to begin to produce their own milk again. I would appeal to anyone who can supply this powdered milk to do so immediately.

I have met the Governor General of Bam to discuss the reconstruction of the city. I have also met with the Iranian ministry of the Interior and the Directors of the five neighbouring regions to Bam. This last meeting was over a lunch of rice and bread - the staple food for the survivors.

I have been delighted by how quickly AMAR has responded, something I think is largely due to our policy of employing local staff who have a strong set of contacts on the ground.

We have had a very close working relationship for many years with the Iranian ministries of Finance and the Interior. And I believe we are the only charity with a tripartite agreement with those oganisations. This meant our medical teams get to work immediately in Bam and we provided the first team of engineers to being the reconstructing process.

Immediately after the earthquake thousands of ordinary people from all over Iran flocked to Bam to help, many of whom are still here, and the stories of kindness and sacrifice are overwhelming. The community support in Bam is a great source of strength, amongst the tragedy.

For years to come, Bam will need help to recover from this disaster. Please do give what you can to help.

Donations to AMAR can by made by clicking on the AMAR Appeal link on this page.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

We have received the following this afternoon from Emma in Southern Iraq.

As well as supporting in emergencies, such as the Bam earthquake, AMAR has long running projects to help the Marsh Arabs of Southern Iraq. On her way to Bam, Emma attended a seminar at Basrah university to agree how AMAR can continue to support this ancient, and much persecuted, people.

This morning a team of Iraqis team presented a synopsis of the findings of an extensive scientific study of the marshlands of southern Iraq. The Chancellor of the University of Basrah, Dr Salman, said that the study was a “landmark” in the process of restoring the marshes which were deliberately and systematically destroyed by Saddam Hussein.

Baroness Nicholson, the Chairman of AMAR International Charitable Foundation, addressed the seminar saying that the liberated Iraq was shining and flourishing under its new freedom. She said that Iraqis themselves had all the skills that they needed to rebuild their country and praised the dedication and commitment of the twenty-five strong team of Iraqi experts who had carried out the study.

AMAR was formed after the uprising of 1991 to assist the tens of thousands of refugees who fled their marshland homes to escape Saddam’s retaliatory assaults. It set up camps in Iran and provided healthcare, education and training for more than 200,000 refugees. After the intervention by the international community in April, AMAR has returned to the marshlands with the refugees and has quickly begun the process of rebuilding the schools and clinics which were destroyed by Saddam.

This study is the first full-scale scientific field study of the entire Iraqi marshes ever, and it was planned and executed entirely by Iraqi experts, supplementing previous surveys carried out by the AMAR team of scientists, public health professionals, teachers and engineers which forms part of a comprehensive assessment of the current state of the marshes and identifies the priorities for reconstruction. Dr Ibtisam, the head of marine sciences at Basrah University concluded her presentation of the ecology of the marshes by announcing that the marshes would need time to recover and that further studies must be undertaken. Her research found that the water of the marshes was not suitable for drinking and identified the need for a health education plan to help prevent deaths that arose from poor sanitation.

The study also uncovered some of the horrors of the Marsh Arabs’ experiences under the former regime. 72% of the tribes had been displaced, 92% of them forcibly by Saddam’s troops. The study found that the villages had suffered weekly attacks and that 25% had been forcibly uprooted more than 10 times in the last twelve years.

Dr Hameed, the head of the History Department of the College of Arts stressed that the overwhelming finding of the research had been that the Marsh Arabs wanted to keep their own way of life which has remained unchanged for thousands of years. He said that they wanted help with health and education but did not want to lose their traditions. He called for AMAR to move ahead as quickly as possible with its work and to draw upon its unique knowledge and history of working with the Marsh Arabs.

Amongst the most alarming findings was the revelation that the most common cause of non-infant death was due to inter-tribal warfare (19%). Dr Ali Nassir said that this finding created problems for accessibility as it was difficult to cross through areas controlled by other tribes to access health and education facilities.

Other outstanding findings included the prevalence of fully preventable deaths, such as diarrhea-induced dehydration which was responsible for 57% of infant deaths.

Baroness Nicholson announced that AMAR had drawn up plans and was working closely with the Iraqi health and education ministries in Baghdad and the South to expand its programme of clinics and schools. She confirmed that AMAR’s team of experts was poised to react to the needs which had been identified. She characterised the work of AMAR as “ordinary people helping other ordinary people”.

At the end of the seminar Baroness Nicholson and Dr Salman signed a new memorandum of understanding and agreed to continue the close relationship between AMAR and the university in helping Iraq to generate its own solutions to the challenges of restoring the marshlands.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

This morning we have received a further update from H. Salman Manesh Director of Amar in Iran:

"This morning at 9.30 ten trolleys of AMAR ICF donations consisting of food, clothes,shoes, and life saving drugs arrived in Bam . The manager of AMAR Medical team in Bam delivered these supplies to the related authorities.The Authorities are now assessing priorities and Amar will want to respond to this......."

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Today we have received an update from H. Salman Manesh Director of Amar in Iran:

"A Health and Medical team consisting of:
- One Physician
- One sanitary Engineer
- One nurse
- One midwife

were sent to Bam by AMAR ICF in Iran.The team started work(in canvass clinics) yesterday, Saturday 3rd Jan. 2004.

They are working in close collaboration with Mashad and Kerman University of Medical sciences and the Iranian Red Crescent.

The team informed us that they are in great need of drugs (specially antibiotics) and skimmed dried milk for small children who survived."

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