WFP to Feed 25,000 Earthquake Survivors for a Month

July 30, 2002
TEHRAN -- "World Food Program has announced its readiness on an Iranian Red Crescent Society's request to feed some 25,000 survivors of the recent killer quake in the Iranian northwestern provinces," World Food Program (WFP) representative in Iran said on Saturday. Representative Marius de Gaay Fortman told IRNA in an exclusive interview here on Saturday, "We are ready to provide the survivors with 400 metric tons of foodstuff for a period of one month."

He noted that the representative of all the countries which have a mission here in Tehran have been invited to contribute to the program, adding that representatives from Belgium, Great Britain, Germany, Korea, Japan, Norway, Sudan, Bangladesh, India, Sweden, as well as some Arab countries have so far showed up.

He went on to say that although they all verbally agreed to provide them with aid but, they are still waiting for the list of requirements to be given to them from the office of disaster Task Force of the Ministry of Interior.

Nearly 95,000 people are affected by the recent quake in the three Iranian provinces of Qazvin, Hamedan and Zanjan, where 235 people lost their lives, and around 1,300 people were injured, of which 500 were hospitalized and the rest were treated as out-patients. Regarding the programs, which this UN food agency has provided for the refugees living in Iran, he said: " There are approximately 78,000 refugees living in 29 recognized camps in Iran. At present WFP is providing food aid to 62,449 refugees, 61 percent of whom are Iraqis and who live in 21 camps and 39 percent Afghans in 7 camps, plus 5000 outside the camps." Fortman added that, "WFP is the food aid arm of the United Nations and its mandate is to assist victims of war and natural disasters and support development projects for the hungry poor, so WFP has been assisting the refugees in Iran with an average of 7 to 8 million dollars a year." The UN official went on to say that, "For the coming two years we have a plan which is approved by the government and is coordinated with UNHCR and also is within the framework of the voluntary repatriation program (VRP), and will be carried out in Sistan- Baluchestan Province, southeastern Iran." He elaborated on the plan by saying: "Apart from the refugees in the camps, and as an "incentive" for the female refugees to attend school, we are giving food rations to girls, and also to the women attending literacy classes and those who attend vocational classes such as dressmaking." Fortman said: "Out of 400,000 Afghans living in this province, only 10 percent will receive our help."

"The budget allocation for this two-year program is $17.5 million that is an increase of 50 percent compared to our previous programs carried out in Iran," the WFP official added. Addressing the doubts aroused regarding the ability of WFP to provide the returnees with 150 kilograms of wheat mentioned in the VRP he said: "As soon as our resources replenish, we can give the rest of 50 kilograms of wheat which under the VRP we were supposed to give to the Afghan refugees."