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RIYADH: Humanitarian aid organizations in Saudi Arabia and the UAE have joined forces to help thousands of Iranians hit by devastating floods.

The Saudi Red Crescent Authority (SRCA) and Emirates Red Crescent (RCUAE) on Friday launched a major relief initiative after recent deluges left around 80 people dead and forced more than 80,000 residents to flee their homes.

In a joint statement, the two agencies said they were drawing up plans to channel aid to the worst-affected areas in a bid to ease the suffering of the Kingdom’s and the UAE’s “Iranian brothers.”

Iranian authorities on Wednesday ordered tens of thousands of people to leave their homes as floodwaters poured into the southwest city of Ahvaz, capital of Khuzestan province.

Gholamreza Shariati, provincial governor, pleaded for young men to volunteer to “help us in building dykes and to assist in the evacuation of women, children and the elderly.”

Nearly 80 people are known to have died in the past three weeks in torrents, described as the worst since the 1940s, which have swamped about 1,900 cities and villages in 20 of Iran’s 31 provinces.

The northeast of Iran was first to be hit by floods on March 19 before the west and southwest were inundated on March 25. On April 1, the west and southwest were again engulfed after heavy rain returned.

The huge inflows have forced authorities to release large volumes of water from Khuzestan’s largest dams, which is now threatening some cities downstream, including the Ahvaz region, where 1.3 million people live.

The disaster has left aid agencies struggling to cope and seen 86,000 people moved to emergency shelters.

The Iranian government has told its citizens, especially flood-affected farmers, that all losses will be compensated.

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