Iran, Australia share experience on fight against coronavirus, wildfires

July 7, 2020 - 17:58

TEHRAN – Karim Hemmati, the head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS), and Lyndall Sachs, the Australian Ambassador to Iran, discussed ways to expand cooperation through exchanging experience on battling COVID-19 and wildfires.

During a meeting on Monday, Hemmati said that the IRCS is one of the top five societies in the world and one of the strongest ones in West Asia, according to the IRCS.

The IRCS provides both relief services and volunteer activities, and cooperates with over 2 million volunteers who were offering assistance since the onset of the epidemic, he added.

Referring to the measure taken to help the Ministry of Health, he said: “One of the most important actions was public education. We produced educational content on coronavirus, which has so far received more than 71 million views on social media.”

Despite the fact that Iranians were affected by the U.S. sanctions and many workshops and sources of income were closed due to the pandemic, they had donated more than 1.3 trillion rials (nearly $30 million at the official rate of 42,000 rials) in cash and kind to the IRCS to support those affected, he explained.

This was a unique initiative in the world and made us manage the disease faster than other countries, he added.

He further called on the Australian Red Cross to help the Iranian Red Crescent Society overcome the problems caused by the pandemic.

 300,000 food packages for corona-affected families 

The population distributed 300,000 food packages during the outbreak across the country and among the deprived who had no income, Hemmati said, adding, also, 500,000 patients with cancer and rare diseases received personal protective equipment.

People affected by crises and those financially-struggling, as well as people who are not covered by any organization, will be supported by the IRCS, he noted.

155 anti-corona shipments sent to IRCS

In the past five months, 155 international cargoes, including masks and other personal protective equipment, have been delivered by governments and international organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, he stated.

He expressed appreciation to those who supported the Iranian people during the outbreak of COVID-19.

The Red Crescent Society is a member of the governing body of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and has so far provided humanitarian services along with other countries, he noted.

Cooperation on fighting bushfires

Appreciating the cooperation and bilateral interaction between the IRCS and the Australian Red Cross in the field of humanitarian action, he said that widespread wildfires in Australia, which have resulted in heavy financial and human losses, require that the two national populations of Iran and Australia cooperate more on climate change and share their experiences in this area.

Although there are many firefighting facilities in Australia, the country has been hit hard by recent bushfires, but there are not enough facilities in Iran to extinguish forest and rangeland fires, and we ask the Australian Red Cross help us perform better in firefighting operations, as well as countering climate change, which is part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ plans, he explained.

Australian donation to Iran on coronavirus

Sachs, for her part, said that the Australian Red Cross is very active in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and has maintained this position for a long time, it has a long history of working with Iran.

Australia has been very lucky in the face of COVID-19, with 90,000 infected and 106 mortalities, compared to other countries, which is the result of the proper management of the disease as well as the geographical location of Australia, she stated.

Iran and Australia have a high cultural affinity and are similar in helping and supporting the deprived and needy. Our country has taken appropriate measures, both in terms of protecting the affected from coronavirus and wildfires, she highlighted.

Australia is a rich country, but the sympathy and support that the people of Iran shared on social media with the Australians during the fires was very valuable to us, and it is very important that people from other countries think of you in difficult circumstances, she noted.

This support is in fact a reflection of the intimacy and warmth of the 50-year-old relationship between the two countries. We have 60,000 Iranians in Australia, which is very effective in the friendly relations between the two countries, she also said.

It is true that geographically there is a long distance between the two countries, but the distance does not mean that we cannot help each other when needed. Australia has a lot of experience in firefighting and drought control, and we are ready to share our experiences with countries with similar conditions, she emphasized.

Emphasizing the need to expand cooperation and exchange of experiences between the two countries, she concluded that “soon the necessary infrastructure will be established to expand cooperation.”

COVID-19 is a global epidemic, and of course, there must be global cooperation to get things back to normal, she concluded.


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