No foreign aid needed yet after Iran quake

Iranian Red Crescent's rescue and relief team, which is among the local groups that have responded to the April 16 earthquake in the country. Photo by: Raefah Makki / IFRC

International assistance is not yet needed in Iran despite the 7.8 earthquake that struck the country on Tuesday, local Red Crescent aid groups responding to the disaster told Devex.

Offers of international assistance poured in after the quake, the second to hit Iran this month, but national Red Crescent societies are managing so far with their current resources, according to a spokesperson for the International Federation for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The tremor this week caused less casualties, although it was much stronger than last week’s 6.3 earthquake that left 37 dead and 850 injured.

IFRC senior communications officer Raefah Makki explained on Wednesday (April 17) that the affected areas of Saravan, Khash and Souran were not so populated, leaving one person dead and 20 more injured, based on the latest figures available.

The tremor nevertheless shook Iran’s neighbors, particularly Pakistan, where 35 people reportedly died in Baluchistan province near the border with Iran, and another 50 presented wounds in Sindh province.

Pakistan Red Crescent Society volunteers and assessment teams have been deployed to the affected areas, and the organization’s disaster management cell has been “activated,” said Makki.

Meanwhile in Iran, rescue and relief operations via land and air are ongoing: at least 10 refugee camps have been set up in Gosht, Saravan, Khash and Souran to accomodate some 1,679 people. Food, water and other basic relief items are being distributed.

The remoteness of the quake-hit areas however is making it difficult for aid groups to gather information, and this is affecting accessibility and communications, Makki said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry immediately offered assistance to Iran.

Tehran has yet to respond to these aid offers.

In August 2012, Iran received international aid after two earthquakes left more than 300 dead, 3,000 injured and 50,000 displaced along its borders with Armenia and Azerbajian.

Tehran initially declined foreign assistance but finally accepted international aid under one condition: all offers would be vetted by the government.

Even the United States for the first time allowed U.S. NGOs to donate food and medicine, and later money to charities helping the victims of the quakes, despite American economic sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

Washington however stressed that humanitarian aid would only be exempt from the sanctions as long as donations were not sent to the government or individuals and entities blacklisted by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Hassan Ghadami from the Iranian interior ministry’s crisis management organization said that aid offer was not made in “good faith.”

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.