Iran’s Rouhani: US blocking of aid to flood victims ‘unprecedented crime’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says US harming of humanitarian work in flood-hit areas constitutes “an unprecedented crime.”

“The US move to block international humanitarian aid to those affected by flood is an unprecedented crime,” Rouhani said on Wednesday.

He made the remarks in a meeting with a number of ministers, heads of executive departments, officials and lawmakers on the occasion of Eid al-Mab’ath, the anniversary of the day the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was chosen as God’s messenger.

Rouhani called on the Iranian Foreign Ministry and the country’s legal bodies to pursue the issue through legal channels.

He said even Iranians living abroad were not able to send their aid to their fellow people due to Washington’s sanctions.

This picture shows a general view of the flooded city of Pol-e Dokhtar in Iran’s Lorestan province on April 03, 2019. (Photo by IRNA)

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds more injured in the past days from flash floods after severe rains swept through large parts of Iran.

Iran has announced a state of emergency in several provinces threatened by flooding and ordered tens of thousands to evacuate their homes.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Tuesday that the US had frozen the accounts of the Iranian Red Crescent Society as part of its sanctions against the Iranian people, thus preventing other countries from sending humanitarian aid to people in Iran’s flood-stricken areas.

“Given that the accounts of the Iranian Red Crescent Society have been blocked [due to the US sanctions], no foreign citizen or Iranian national living abroad is able to send any relief aid to flood-hit people,” Qassemi told IRNA.

This measure exposes the American officials’ hostile approach towards the Iranian nation and counters all their “ridiculous” claims that the sanctions do not target the people of Iran, he added.

On Monday, Iran’s foreign minister said the US was waging “economic terrorism” against the Islamic Republic by employing restrictive measures that are troubling the relief efforts targeting flood-stricken people across the country.

In a tweet, Mohammad Javad Zarif said the US sanctions were “impeding aid efforts by Iranian Red Crescent to all communities devastated by unprecedented floods. Blocked equipment includes relief choppers.”

The US re-imposed the sanctions against Iran that had been lifted as part of a 2015 multilateral nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers, weeks after Washington left the international agreement in May 2017.  

Back in October 2018, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered the US to halt the unilateral sanctions it had re-imposed on “humanitarian” supplies to Iran.

Washington has refused to relieve its bans.

This photo shows a flooded area in a village around the city of Ahvaz, in Iran’s Khuzestan province, on April 3, 2019. (Photo by Tasnim)

Rouhani thanks relief workers, reaffirms compensation for flood-hit people

Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani praised efforts by Iranian officials and relief workers to render assistance to the flood-hit people and pledged that his administration would stand by the people.  

“What warms the cockles of our heart as we make efforts to deliver aid to [those affected by flood] and counter the massive flood crisis in the country’s provinces is the moral of people,” he said.

“The government will be serving those affected and hit by flooding with its full force and we well do our utmost to compensate for the damage caused,” he added.

Iran’s Army and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) have also stepped up ongoing relief efforts in several provinces hit by the flooding.

The military forces have mobilized efforts to help people trapped in the flood-affected areas. They have also helped evacuate residents in the regions with an emergency situation.

Iran’s petroleum minister urges oil firms to assist flood relief

Meanwhile, Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh urged local oil and gas firms to do more to help with providing aid to the flood victims.

The pain and damage caused to people in the flood-hit areas require that all forces and equipment in the oil industry have the active presence in full coordination with the country’s crisis management headquarters in order to assist and provide services to the people, Zangeneh said in a letter to the subsidiary companies of his ministry on Wednesday.

He also hailed Iranian drilling companies and other energy firms for using their pumps to remove water in flooded areas.

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