Minister Kitt meets Iranian Ambassador to discuss humanitarian response to earthquake
Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, Tom Kitt TD, today met with the Iranian Ambassador to Ireland, His Excellency Mr. Seyed Hossein Mirfakhar, to discuss the current humanitarian crisis resulting from the earthquake, which devastated south eastern Iran in the early morning of St Stephen's Day.
Following the meeting the Minister said:
“It is very difficult for us here in Ireland to understand the scale of a disaster like this. While estimates of the death toll vary, Ambassador Mirfakhar informed me that over 28,000 bodies have been buried and the final toll will be higher. In addition approximately 50,000 have been injured and over 70,000 left homeless. Thousands of men, women and children are sleeping outdoors under blankets in temperatures close to freezing.
“I have conveyed my deepest sympathies to the Iranian Ambassador and pledged in my capacity as Development Minister to do everything possible to assist the people from the city of Bam and the surrounding areas to recover. A coordinated international response will be needed to assist in the recovery and reconstruction and Ireland, holding the EU Presidency, can play a key role in garnering the support of our partners in the EU.
“The Irish Government has already committed €1 million to aid in the relief effort. €500,000 will be channelled through the Red Crescent which has great experience in this type of disaster relief following a similar scale earthquake in northern Iran in 1990 in which 35,000 people were killed and over 500,000 were left homeless. The remaining €500,000 is being channelled through the United Nations. Further funding will be made available as the critical needs of the people become clearer. We have been in close contact with Concern which currently has an assessment team on the ground”.
Ambassador Mirfakhar thanked Minister of State Kitt for the Government's response and also stated that he was greatly touched by the number of calls of support from Irish people during this very difficult time.