The one thing Americans need to know about donating to help Iran’s earthquake victims

More than 530 people were killed and thousands more injured when the world’s deadliest earthquake so far this year hit the border of Iran and Iraq on Sunday. Landslides triggered by the 7.3 magnitude quake and dozens of aftershocks hindered rescuers attempting to reach affected areas. The tragedy will have a lasting impact on the region, but there are a few ways to help victims of the Iran-Iraq earthquake from afar.


The quake is the largest the area has experienced in years, and roughly 70,000 Iranians were left without shelter. Iranian authorities said that hundreds of people in the town Pol-e Zahab alone had been killed.



Local aid organizations are already on the ground helping victims in both countries. However, there is a major wrinkle in supporting them: the US trade embargo on Iran prohibits sending money directly to Iranian charities without prior authorization by the Office of Foreign Assets Control.


Thus, the National Iranian American Council says the best way for folks in America to help would be to support a US-based NGO that is providing humanitarian services in or related to Iran, “including in relief and reconstruction efforts”. Americans are also “not permitted to send funds directly to non-US NGOs specifically intending those funds to be used for relief efforts in Iran” –– this really limits the list of organizations we feel comfortable recommending.


At the moment, it’s a list of one: Relief International. RI was founded in 1990 in response to a devastating earthquake in northwestern Iran. They’re on the ground now in Sulimaneya province, where the earthquake’s epicenter was located.



We’ll add more organizations to our list as we identify them.