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Tehran, 2 May 09

A new UN-HABITAT Disaster Mitigation Office was officially opened on Saturday in the Iranian capital. The opening ceremony was held at the premises provided and equipped by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.

After the traditional ribbon cutting major personalities addressed the audience. They included the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Manoucher Mottaki, and the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Mohammad Saieedi Kia.

The Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, congratulated the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development for having taken the initiative of establishing the new office "at a time when disasters are causing more and more destruction and casualties all over the world".

She defined the objectives of the office which will focus on capacity-building in the area of earthquake resistant housing. She emphasized the need to link disaster mitigation with sustainable relief and reconstruction and solicited the continuous support from the Iranian Government to UN-HABITAT disaster management activities.

Other speakers at the opening ceremony included the Chairman of the National Habitat Committee, Mr. Khajehdalouee, the Director of UN-HABITAT Technical Cooperation, Mr. Daniel Biau, and the UN Resident Coordinator in Tehran, Mr. Sunil Narula.

Mr. Biau said the office will start its operations by mid-2009 and work at both national and regional levels.

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