Mon, 29 Dec 2003

Indonesia pledges US$200,000 for Iran

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian government has expressed its deep condolences to Iran for the more than 20,000 people killed in a devastating earthquake on Friday and pledged that it would send relief in response to an appeal by the Iranian government.

Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Jusuf Kalla said on Sunday that the government would provide US$200,000 in aid and send a medical team to help victims.

"Ibu President (Megawati Soekarnoputri), in the name of the government and the people of Indonesia, expresses her deepest condolences to the Iranian government over the disaster, which claimed such a huge number of lives," he said, reading an official statement.

Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, joined with other countries, including the United States, China, Australia and Japan, to dispatch humanitarian aid, tents and medical teams to help people in the affected area. Both Indonesia and Iran are members of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).

The financial aid will be distributed by the Indonesian Red Cross in Abu Dhabi while the medical team will be sent by the health ministry.

Kalla said the government was calling on Muslims in the country to hold special prayers for the victims and their families.

The humanitarian aid will include cash, blankets, food, drugs, medical personnel and other assistance in line with needs in the field.

More than 20,000 people were killed and thousands of others seriously injured when a strong earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale flattened 70 percent of the ancient Iranian town of Bam on Friday.

The Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) chairman Mar'ie Muhammad said his organization was working with the Red Crescent of Dubai and Iran to establish what kind of aid was needed.

The Indonesian humanitarian aid and doctors will be transported to Iran via Dubai. In Dubai, the PMI will charter an aircraft to Iran, Antara news agency reported on Sunday.

The PMI has appealed to Indonesians to help Iranians in their time of need.

PMI secretary-general Iyang D. Sukendar advised that donations could be remitted to PMI's bank account, number 070.0095547274 at the Bank Mandiri Wisma Baja branch.

For further inquiries, contact the Indonesian Red Cross at (62-21) 7992325 ext. 201 or 207 or the disaster unit at (62-21) 7992325 ext. 202.