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August 13, 2012, Washington D.C. – Today, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) along with a number of other Iranian American organizations submitted a letter to Adam Szubin, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at the U.S. Department of Treasury. In the letter, the coalition of organizations urged OFAC to take immediate action to enable humanitarian assistance for the victims of the recent earthquakes in Northwestern Iran. The coalition specifically noted that the current sanctions against Iran limit indiviudal and organizational ability to provide medicine, food, supplies, and monetary assistance to these victims as they begin to rebuild their lives. The coalition requested that:
1. OFAC issue statement clarifying licensing requirements for humanitarian relief; 2. Provide expedited review of any license requests by organizations assisting the earthquake victims; 3. Issue a general license, similar to the one issued following the 2003 earthquake in Bam, Iran, to enable relief organizations to provide services in Iran; and 4. Provide guidance and assurance to foreign and domestic financial institutions so they are able to process transactions on behalf of U.S. persons related to earthquake relief efforts in Iran.
On Saturday, August 11, 2012, two earthquakes registering at 6.4 and 6.3 magnitude, respectively, struck the northwestern area of Iran. The initial earthquake struck 60 km (37 miles) northeast of the city of Tabriz, followed by a second one 11 minutes later, measuring 6.3, near Varzaghan, 49 km (30 miles) northeast of Tabriz. The quakes have left nearly 300 people dead, over 1,400 injured, and 16,000 homeless in their wake.
The above referenced coalition includes PAAIA, the Iranian American Bar Association (IABA), the Child Foundation, Children of Persia, Havaar-Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions, and State Repression, the Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB), Moms Against Poverty, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Pars Equality Center, and United 4 Iran. In the wake of the tragic earthquake, coalition member, IAAB’s contacts in Iran have reported that the Iranian government has announced it does not require international assistance in the search and rescue operations and that local authorities and the Iranian Red Crescent seem to have the situation under control. Representatives of independent NGOs in Iran are now arriving in Tabriz, where all rescue and relief operations have been centralized. They will be able to provide more information on the types of assistance that may be needed from the public and international agencies in the rebuilding efforts. In the meantime, the coalition will continue its attempts to pull a list of orgnaizations to which interested individuals may contribute. A listing of these organizations will be publicized once it is compiled and verified.
In addition, in response to several inquiries by our members concerning the impact of the Iranian Transaction Regulations on Iranian Americans, PAAIA, offers the following frequently asked questions (FAQ) as a means of increasing our community’s understanding of these sanctions and their implications in our day to day life.
To view the White House’s comments regarding the earthquake, click here.
To view PAAIA’s statement on the earthquake in Iran, click here.
PAAIA Letter to OFAC Urges Speedy Action
Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans 1614 20th Street NW Washington DC 20009 (202) 828-8370 www.paaia.org