Since March 19th, people in Iran have suffered floods which have up as of April 14th claimed the lives of over 76 people and 1,136 injured. The floodings also caused upwards of $2 billion in damages.
Supreme Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei on April 15th announced that use of resources from the National Development Fund (NDF) would be allowed for reparations from the flood.”
With the death of five people in the Khuzestan province and another person in Ilam province, the death toll has now reached 76,” since March 19th, a statement by the coroner’s office said.
Floods have hit 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces, forcing mass evacuations, heavily damaging infrastructure, and severely impacting the agricultural sector of the country.
“Twenty-five provinces and more than 4,400 villages across the country were affected by the floods,” Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli told parliament.
Transport Minister Mohammad Eslami meanwhile told government officials that “725 bridges have been totally destroyed.”
“More than 14,000 kilometres of roads have been damaged,” he said.
According to Relief Web, “77 schools have been destroyed (55 in Lorestan and 22 in Golestan). There is a significant risk of additional flooding from Karkheh dam (Khuzestan Province). Six cities and 210 villages have been evacuated, 61 of which have been flooded.”
Zahra Falahat, the Iranian Red Crescent’s Under Secretary General for International Affairs and International Humanitarian Law said:
“This is the largest disaster to hit Iran in more than 15 years. The scenes that our volunteers are reporting are devastating – entire villages washed away in a matter of minutes, countless homes and buildings damaged and completely destroyed.
“For the Red Crescent, this is one of the largest humanitarian relief efforts in our history. We are making every single resource we have available to save and support people. But it is not enough.”
“More than 18,000 Red Crescent relief workers – most of them volunteers – have been involved in the humanitarian response. Seventeen Red Crescent helicopters along with 41 boats have been used to rescue people trapped by rising waters. In all, more than 457,000 people have been reached with Red Crescent services, including about 239,000 people who have been provided with temporary shelters,” Relief Web reported. It also reported that upwards of 2,000,000 people are in of aid.
The Iranian government and President Hassan Rouhani accused the US sanctions of hampering relief efforts. Iran is receiving almost no direct financial aid due to the sanctions.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington was ready to help via the Red Cross and Red Crescent, but accused Iran’s clerical establishment of “mismanagement in urban planning and in emergency preparedness”.
“No foreign cash help has been given to the Iranian Red Crescent society. With attention to the inhuman American sanctions, there is no way to send this cash assistance,” the Red Crescent said in a statement.
Regardless, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, are helping, as well as Germany, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Russia, Turkey and France.
Aid workers in Iran also claim that US sanctions are hampering their ability to help those affected.
“Right now, we need some boats and machinery to control the water flow,” Fereshte Ghaffari, a volunteer for the Imam Ali society told Al Jazeera.
“It would be much easier for international agencies to provide them. Due to the sanctions, prices are [also] much higher. If it wasn’t for sanctions, [things wouldn’t be as expensive] and we could do much more with the money we’ve collected.”
On April 13th, France delivered 114 water drainage pumps and 210 blankets, this came in addition to a prior aid delivery on April 11th.
The first package consisted of 114 motor pumps, 300 kitchen kits and 5,000 blankets.
The Vatican on April 12th announced that it was also sending aid. The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development said Pope Francis was sending (US$113,000), which will be distributed with the help of the Vatican nunciature in Tehran.
“In the course of the past two weeks, violent flooding struck the northeast and southern regions of Iran, and there is fear flooding will continue in the coming days,” the dicastery said in a statement.
On April 12th, the UAE and Saudi Arabia announced that they would allocate aid based on the Islamic brotherhood and emphasis on solidarity with Iranians.
On April 9th, Russian and Armenian aid workers delivered humanitarian aid to Iran.
“A convoy of the Russian-Armenian humanitarian center successfully delivered humanitarian aid to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” a Russian Emergencies Ministry Spokesperson said.
The cargo included over 4,000 tents, blankets and folding beds purchased at the expense of Russia.
???? #Russia extends condolences to the people of #Iran following severe floods, which caused mass casualties, ⛑️ renders humanitarian assistance sending vital supplies including blankets, tents and generators to help those who suffered from this natural disaster pic.twitter.com/Zy77MiTErO
— Russia in RSA ?? (@EmbassyofRussia) April 8, 2019
Afghan and Azerbaijani Red Crescent as well as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) have all announced they will help Iran in addressing the consequences of the natural disaster.
The German Red Cross shipped 40 lifeboats with outboard motors as well as 80 sets for water rescuers such as helmets, vests and boots. The consignment also includes nine river rescue kits, containing ropes, backpacks and pulleys.
The Turkish Red Crescent sent five trucks of aid supplies to Iran flood-affected regions. The aid includes 320 tents, 500 bedsteads, 100 hygiene kits, 1,625 blankets, 360 kitchen kits and 60 stoves.
On April 15th, Seyyed Hashem arrived in flood-hit Ahvaz in the Khuzestan province. The Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) came as the head of an international delegation.
The 31-member international delegation included representatives from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Relief International, Caritas relief agency, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), UN humanitarian assistance and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).