How to Help With Iran-Iraq Earthquake Recovery

On Sunday, the first in a series of earthquakes struck near Halabjah, an Iraqi community bordering Iran, in the Kurdish region of the country. Halabjah was made famous in the 1990s as the site of a ruthless chemical attack ordered by Saddam Hussein — you can see the monument to victims above.

A series of aftershocks followed the quake, and the combination of temblors has killed at least 550 people and injured hundreds more. This was 2017′s most lethal earthquake, and the death toll will likely rise in the coming days. Recovery will undoubtedly be complex and long.

What we know

The first earthquake was estimated to be a 7.3 magnitude tremor, and it struck around nine at night — when lots of people were at home, getting ready for bed. People in nearby Iran as well as Kuwait, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel and the United Arab Emirates all felt the quake.

On Monday, a series of eight earthquakes followed, hitting both Iraq and Iran. The strongest was 4.9 in magnitude. Over 150 aftershocks also struck the region — notorious for its seismic instability.

The Iranian government has disclosed over 500 deaths, while the Iraqis say approximately 10 people died and hundreds more were injured.

Concerns about aftershocks have led some people to sleep outdoors, fearing building collapse, while officials are warning people to avoid elevators.

Why it’s complicated

Some of the affected areas are rural and isolated. Consequently, aid teams are still struggling to reach certain communities for rescue operations — and every hour counts when people are trapped in rubble. Approximately 70,000 people need shelter, and winter is approaching.

Food and fuel shortages are both issues, while medical facilities have been destroyed or heavily damaged in the quake — and in some cases, medical personnel are dead or too injured to care for patients.

Furthermore, tense political relationships surrounding the autonomy and role of the Kurdish people complicate some recovery efforts in Iraq. The Turkish government has set aside some of its historical conflict with the Kurds to provide aid.

For those in the U.S., sanctions targeting Iran also introduce a note of complexity. It’s not possible to donate directly to relief organizations in Iran, and only some relief groups are allowed to work in the country. And several are smaller, lesser-known charities, not the big names you’re familiar with.

How to help

The International Red Crescent is on the ground in Iraq and Iran.

Other groups responding to the crisis include: Relief International, Child Foundation, Iran’s Children and Children of Persia. This list will expand in coming days as groups assess their resources and ability to respond.

You can also contact your legislators and pressure them to ensure that the United States honors its commitments to the United Nations and the World Health Organization. WHO is responding to the earthquake, but the agency doesn’t accept donations from members of the public.

In addition, encourage your lawmakers to affirm our commitment to the Iran nuclear deal, and to other measures designed to help Iran engage fully in the global society and economy. Donald Trump has pledged to unravel the agreement, which would be a disaster for national security and human rights.

Photo credit: Adam Jones


Mike R
Mike R2 months ago


Winn A
Winn A3 months ago


Muff-Anne Y

Saudi’s problem.

Danuta W
Danuta W3 months ago

Thanks for posting.

heather g
heather g3 months ago

UN needs to step in urgently because local politicians still won't help in emergencies. Those helpless and scared people need all the help they can get

Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O3 months ago

Prayers and thoughts are with all these terrified and hurting people feeling so helpless through this all. I do hope that relief efforts are allowed in and get to the needy people as soon as. Thanks for the information.

Janet B
Janet B3 months ago


Peggy B
Peggy B3 months ago

I agree with Tara B.

Lenore K
Lenore K3 months ago


Cruel Justice
Cruel J3 months ago

I'm so very sorry.