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Restoring Vital Services

The disaster wiped out basic services in Bam, crucial to the more than 200,000 people living in the city and surrounding villages. The two public hospitals were completely destroyed and many medical staff perished. The water distribution system was shattered.

In the initial days of the crisis, the Saudi Red Crescent and other groups established temporary facilities to treat the injured. To compliment the clinics managed by the IRCS, a Japanese Red Cross clinic opened on New Year’s Eve, followed a few days later by a 200-bed ECHO-funded referral hospital and two other clinics staffed by Red Cross personnel from Germany, Finland and Norway. These facilities, which have already provided treatment to more than 10,000 patients, will be handed over to the IRCS in a few months.

Access to clean water also posed a major challenge. Within 48 hours of the disaster the International Federation deployed water and sanitation emergency response units (ERUs) from the Spanish, Austrian, French, German and Swedish Red Cross. “The problem is that the earthquake destroyed the entire water distribution system in Bam, which could potentially reduce the quality of the water once it arrives at the end user,” emphasized Sara Escudero, a Spanish Red Cross water and sanitation engineer. The IRCS distributed bottled water and placed water tanks throughout many neighbourhoods. The ERUs provided the Red Cross Red Crescent hospital and clinics and tent camps with clean water, showers and latrines.

Coping with Grief and Fear

A day after the quake, the IRCS sent in emergency psychosocial supports teams to assess the situation and provide initial support. More than 85 IRCS volunteers travelled from tent to tent, providing ad hoc counselling. “Immediately after the earthquake, people concentrated on survival, on trying to find their relatives and getting shelter, food and water,” says Aghdase Kafi, an IRCS psychologist and support team member. “But it is also very important for children and their families to be able to talk about their feelings and share their problems, to see that there are others who share the same situation.”

The earthquake destroyed the 2000-year old citadel. Built out of mud bricks, clay straw
and the trunks of palm trees, it is reported to have been the largest structure of its kind
in the world.

©Michael Walter / Troika

Unloading relief supplies at the Iranian Red Crescent headquarters.
©Farooq Burney / International Federation

International Federation and Iranian Red Crescent leadership brief the international media on relief operations.
©Christopher Black / International Federation

Dr. Shinichi Nakashima talks to a patient inside the Japanese Red Cross clinic. The clinic staffed by a team of 14 that includes four doctors, four nurses, an electrician and administrator and other support staff, opened on December 31.
©Christopher Black / International Federation

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