Iran is facing disaster if more is not done quickly to help some 37 million people hit by the worst drought there for more than 30 years, UN agencies warned Tuesday.
People urgently need drinking water and many have lost their livestock or crops as a result of the drought, UN expert Vladimir Sakharov told reporters here. Sakharov, in Geneva after a 17-day mission to Iran, said Iran's situation was "unique and unprecedented", being the combined result of two consecutive years of drought. The extent of this year's drought could not be forseen and the the situation is only likely to get worse, he said."Rains are expected only in November, even if sporadic rains come earlier they would not resolve anything," Sakharov said.
An estimated 800,000 animals have already died of malnutrition and disease, and more than 60 percent of the rural population may be forced to move to the cities, he added. "If no appropriate measures are taken now very quickly, we, all of us, Iran of course, and the international community, we would face a fully-fledged disaster," he said at a news conference.
"We recognise ... that we are facing a long-term problem. What we are trying to resolve now is to address emergency needs," he added.
Sakharov visited Iran from July 22 to August 8 as part of a multi-agency team of experts which also included representatives of the UN Children's Fund, the World Health Organisation and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. While water was available in the country, he said, the greatest problem was bringing it to those in urgent need.
Mobile water tankers cost about $50,000 each and some 10,000 tankers were needed in Iran, he added.
The drought in Iran is the worst since 1964 and affects more than 18 of the country's 28 provinces, the UN said. Most of the areas hit are in the south, centre and east of the country. – (AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )