Two million in desperate need of humanitarian aid after Iran floods: Red Crescent

Heavy rainfall in eastern Iran since Saturday prompted authorities to renew flood warnings for large swathes of the country. (Reuters)
Updated 15 April 2019

Two million in desperate need of humanitarian aid after Iran floods: Red Crescent

  • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave the government permission to use the National Development Fund
  • Since March, flash floods have been hitting the northern and western parts of Iran

TEHRAN: Two million people are in desperate need of humanitarian aid after the devastating floods that have swamped many parts of Iran since March, the Red Crescent said on Monday.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies called the floods the "largest disaster to hit Iran in more than 15 years."

According to the IFRC, the floods have killed at least 78 people and injured more than 1,000 others.

Estimates put the number of people affected at 10 million across 2,000 cities and towns, with more than half a million displaced, it said.

"In all, more than 457,000 people have been reached by Red Crescent services," and emergency accommodation provided for 239,000 more.

Heavy rainfall in eastern Iran since Saturday prompted authorities to renew flood warnings for large swathes of the country, with local media reporting rivers bursting their banks and roads being swept away.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave the government permission to use money from the National Development Fund should the country’s regular budget not meet the need.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani asked Khamenei to release $2 billion from the fund, which was established in 2000 and is used in emergency cases.

Flash floods have been hitting the northern and western parts of Iran, with damages estimated so far at more than $2.5 billion.

Officials said Sunday that 25 out of Iran's 31 provinces have been affected and more than 14,000 kilometres (8,700 miles) of roads damaged.


Lebanon PM appeals for foreign help to combat import crisis

Updated 10 min 48 sec ago

Lebanon PM appeals for foreign help to combat import crisis

  • The appeal was part of an effort “to address a liquidity crisis and secure basic imports”, the statement said
  • Petrol station owners have already staged strikes, and hospitals have threatened to stop admitting patients

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s outgoing prime minister Saad Hariri asked foreign allies for help on Friday as its dollar-starved economy faces an import crisis after weeks of political and economic turmoil.
Lebanon asked for credit lines from the United States, France, Russia, Saudi Araba, Egypt, Turkey, China and Italy, a statement from Hariri’s office said.
The appeal was part of an effort “to address a liquidity crisis and secure basic imports” and was critical to preserving food security, the statement said.
Since October 17, Lebanon has been rocked by anti-government protests that triggered a protracted lockdown and prompted the cabinet to resign within two weeks.
But political paralysis amid the ongoing demonstrations has aggravated a dollar liquidity crisis that since September has seen banks limit dollar withdrawals and transfers.
With banks failing to provide sufficient dollars, the greenback is selling for more than 2,000 Lebanese pounds on the parallel market for the first time since it was pegged at 1,507 in 1997.
Importers of fuel, medicines and wheat warn of shortages if the situation persists.
Petrol station owners have already staged strikes, and hospitals have threatened to stop admitting patients, fueling public panic.
To ease the crisis, the central bank said in October it would facilitate access to dollars at the official rate for importers of fuel, wheat and medicinea.
Other sectors have struggled to obtain hard currency for imports however, with banks capping dollar withdrawals at $500 a week.
Even before protests began, economic growth had stalled following repeated political deadlock in recent years, compounded by the war in neighboring Syria.
Public debt stood at more than $86 billion, over 150 percent of gross domestic product, according to the finance ministry.
The World Bank has warned of an impending recession that may see the number of people living in poverty climb from a third to 50 percent of the population.
Unemployment, already above 30 percent for young people, would also increase, it said.