Report From Nigkaman Jamshid on Visit to Earthquake-Stricken Areas in East Azarbaijan
Following a 3-day visit to the earthquake-stricken areas, participation in relief efforts, and consultations during my visit, I have described issues that came to my attention and need to be considered in our future efforts below:
We began our visit from the city of Ahar which is within 100 kilometers of Tabriz, the capital of East Azarbaijan Province. Ahar has been severely damaged by the earthquake. From the outside damages to the houses may appear minor; however, most of the interiors and foundations have been destroyed and most houses are no longer livable.
The Municipality does not allow entry into most of the houses because of the possibility of their collapse. People are living in tents on the streets and in parks. Due to the shortage of tents many people have built shelters using plastic, blankets, and other materials, particularly in the poor areas of the city. The situation is tragic in numerous villages. I visited at least fifteen villages in the city of Ahar. These villages were located within 10 to 40 kilometers of the city of Ahar. The villages, names of which have been provided in the attached list, have been severely damaged and 70 to 100 percent destroyed.
Many rescue groups conduct relief efforts. However, considering the scattered location of the villages, their distance from main roads as well as inaccessibility and the poor conditions of the roads, there is a need for better relief efforts in the region as the cold weather season nears.
In addition to the high human fatality rates in villages, unfortunately, the cattle which have been the main sources of foodstuff for the villagers have also been dying. There is no place to keep the surviving cattle and they are attacked by wolves and theives at night. The cattle food has also been lost in the earthquake.
Schools begin classes in less than a month. Following a session with the educational authorities of the city it was agreed that, in the first stage of relief efforts, two trailer units (modular schools) with the capacity of 20 students each, should be assembled and sent to two of the 17 villages in the region for installation.
Another program involves stationing a team of psychological experts for children and victims in the villages. Preliminary efforts have been made for this program and the details will be announced in the next few days.
There is a need for continuing supply of foodstuff, toys and durable containers. In the long term, it is important to provide an appropriate space to keep the animals.
The children were very happy and excited when we distributed the toys among them. I hope we can provide all villages with schools and continue to send foodstuff. Hopefully we can build houses and shelters in the long term and rebuild the villages with the help of all Iranians. There are also plans for weekly rotations of various children’s theater groups and volunteers in the region which can be very effective.
I repeat that despite the efforts of various charities and aid and relief organizations, long term and continuous help is needed due to the scale of the destruction.
In the days to come details of projects related to schools, foodstuff and psychological efforts will be submitted. It was also agreed that a trailer be installed in the area allocated to the department of Education of the city of Ahar, to be used as a station for the members of the Nikgaman Jamshid Institute who will rotate weekly. The purpose of the station is to monitor and manage daily aid efforts.
August 2012 – Ashkan Taghipour