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U.N. calls on Iran for help

TEHRAN: Valerie Amos, the U.N. under-secretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs, says Iran can help aid organisations gain better access to displaced people in Syria, Iraq and Gaza.

Amos described the situation in Syria, where almost 11 million people are in need, as "unprecedented".

She said people in Iraq are facing an "unravelling" crisis that has already caused one of the largest internal population displacements in the world. "Attacks, systematic persecution and grave human rights abuses against civilians by the so-called Islamic State and other armed groups are outrageous," she declared.

Meanwhile in Gaza the U.N. says 1,975 Palestinians, including 1,417 civilians, and 67 Israelis were killed during the conflict. An estimated 10,000 people have been injured, including 3,000 children and 3,000 women. Hospitals, schools and shelters will take months to rebuild.

USAID WFPIn Syria, the World Food Programme (WFP) has enabled the delivery of food to 3.7 million people while the World Health Organization (WHO) has distributed medicines and supplies for more than half a million. In Iraq and Gaza, the U.N. says it is delivering food, water, medicines, fuel and household goods.

"My job and that of our humanitarian partners is to be as effective as possible in our aid delivery and ensure that we can reach more people, more quickly," she added.

Amos's comments coincide with news that the UK's biggest companies have almost doubled their donations to charities in five years. A new report by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) says members of the FTSE 100 Index gave £2.5 billion to good causes in 2012, a rise of £1.2 billion since 2007 – despite the economic downturn.

The survey also discovered the average donation by a FTSE 100 company has trebled since 2007 from £1 million to £3 million, and donations to charity by the leading group are increasing at a faster pace than their pre-tax profits.

CAF says 73 percent of survey respondents think companies should be more open and transparent about their corporate responsibility; 61 percent say corporate responsibility is just a PR exercise; 69 percent think that businesses have an obligation to support the local community in which they operate; and 44 percent think that businesses have an obligation to donate to charitable causes.

John Low, Charities Aid Foundation CEO commented: "We've seen a growing number of brands putting their ethical aims and values at the heart of their businesses, and many have been hugely successful, particularly among a younger age group.

"We now need all companies to be more transparent and vocal about the great work they're already doing for charities across the country. Why not shout louder about the remarkable growth in corporate charitable giving in spite of difficult economic conditions."

CAF says philanthropy is a powerful tool for driving sustainability as it enables businesses to have a "meaningful dialogue" with employees, customers, investors and wider society in order to achieve positive change. The charity works with over 7,000 companies internationally to provide integrated solutions for their corporate responsibility and philanthropic requirements via offices in Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, India, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, UK and the U.S.

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