29 November AP

Iranians donate cash, clothes, food to needy Afghans


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Iranians rushed through cold rain to tents set up Thursday at major intersections, offering donations of cash, food and clothing to their needy Afghan neighbors to the east.

Singers, artists, sports stars and Iranians of all ages and backgrounds showed up in the nationwide humanitarian gesture organized by the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee and Iran's state-run radio and television. Live scenes from the tents were broadcast throughout the day.

Jamileh Eskandari, 80, leaning on a walking stick, donated 20,000 rials (dlrs 2.50) at a collection site in eastern Tehran. "This is all I could offer. I'm sorry that I could not offer more," Eskandari told The Associated Press afterward. She explained her need to help by reciting words of the epic Iranian poet Ferdowsi: "All human beings are members of one family, they are of one nature in creation."

Mohammad Jalili, 13, donated some winter clothes. Six-year-old Hadiseh Ramezani offered a hat and a box of biscuits. "I saw on television last night that Afghan children had no hats, and they were crying because they were hungry and it was cold there," Hadiseh said.

Social workers loaded donations aboard waiting trucks that would make their way to Afghanistan in the next few days through Dogharoun, a major border crossing in northeastern Iran. Organizer Ahmad Bouzari said donations were accumulating beyond expectations and included cash, clothes, blanket, cooking oil, biscuits, rice, sugar, canned food, dates and detergents.

"People of different walks of life, some of them low income families, are offering all they can for needy Afghans," he said. In a report issued to journalists in Tehran on Monday, UNICEF estimated up to 100,000 children in refugee camps and cities inside Afghanistan could die if essential relief supplies weren't made available in the next few weeks.

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