Quake-hit Iran still waiting for help
TEHRAN: A year to the day before an earthquake and tsunamis in the Indian Ocean killed more than 160,000 people; an Iranian city was devastated by a quake that brought a flood of well-meaning promises to help.
But in the tents or prefab houses of Bam, a city that still looks like a wasteland, residents must have a sense of deja vu as they follow the horrific news from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand and elsewhere. A major disaster hits, the international community pledges huge amounts of money, but then the promises of rapid reconstruction fail to materialise.
The ancient city of Bam was flattened in a quake that struck on December 26, 2003. More than 30,000 people were killed and tens of thousands left homeless, and a year on most survivors are still living in makeshift housing.
Many victims, complaining of the slow pace of reconstruction, are blaming Iranian authorities, who in turn point the finger at what they say are broken promises from international donors. “The Westerners, with all their money, do not feel any pity,” top cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Janatti complained in a sermon here on Friday, warning the Asian tsunami victims not to hold out for international help.
“For Bam, at first they said they would give hundreds of millions of dollars, and the people were happy that Bam would be rebuilt. But then the Westerners forgot. They are making the same promises now. But they don’t keep their promises.”
According to the United Nations, only 17 million dollars of the 32 million it asked for in a “flash appeal” to help after the Bam disaster has been received. afp