'We are ready to receive foreign assistance'

Iran is now accepting foreign assistance for victims of the twin quakes that hit East Azerbaijan province Saturday, Aug. 11. Photo by: Globovisión / CC BY-NC

After declining foreign assistance offered by several countries, Iran has now decided to accept international aid for victims of Saturday’s twin earthquakes, but with a caveat: Aid offers must first pass through the government for vetting.

The latest situation report from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says U.N. agencies have already prepared a list detailing the forms of assistance they can provide to Iran. This list will be sent to the central office of Iran’s National Disaster Management Organization, which will then “review offers and accept them on the basis of needs.”

Before the quakes shook East Azerbaijan province, humanitarian aid to Iran has mostly been for Afghan refugees living in the country, at least according to 2012 data from U.N. OCHA.

Nearly 70 percent of official development assistance to the upper-middle income country in 2010, meanwhile, has largely been directed to education, according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developmentdata.

Because of Iran’s efforts to advance its nuclear program, the United Nations passed a resolution calling on member states and international financial institutions to not provide monetary assistance to Iran, except for humanitarian and development purposes. Several Western donors, including the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, imposed bilateral sanctions as well.

The Islamic Development Bank is currently accepting bids to design, supply and install a new wastewater treatment plant, and to construct a transmission main feeding into the plant.

The World Bank, on the other hand, has not had a Country Assistance Strategy for Iran for the past few years. Its last Interim Assistance Strategy ended in 2005. The bank only has one remaining project in the country — the Alborz Integrated Land and Water Management Project — but this is expected to end in October 2012.

Russia, Japan, Switzerland and Turkey were among the countries that have offered assistance to Iran in the relief operations, Daily News Egypt reports. The United States, meanwhile, clarified Tuesday that humanitarian aid is exempt from U.S. sanctions to Iran, “as long as the donations are not being sent to the Government of Iran or any Iranian individual or entity on the Treasury Department’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons.”

The twin quakes have left 306 people dead and more than 2,600 people injured. It has also affected some 155,000 people, according to the latest figures U.N. OCHA released Tuesday (Aug. 14). On Monday, Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi was quoted as saying: “In the current context, we are ready to receive foreign assistance.”

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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.

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