RI On The Ground In Earthquake-Affected Communities

Relief International teams are racing to distribute critical health and hygiene items to hundreds of families devastated by Iran’s recent earthquake.

The 7.3 magnitude earthquake rumbled through Iran’s border region with Iraq on November 12, 2017, hitting hardest in the western Kermanshah province. The quake left more than 538 people dead and nearly 8,000 injured. The cities of Sarpol-e-Zahab and Qasr-e Shirin bore the brunt of the damage with large-scale destruction of houses and other buildings. The quake reportedly destroyed half of all the schools in Sarpol-e-Zahab.

The Government of Iran and the Iranian Red Crescent Society responded quickly and forcefully to the emergency. Relief International is an approved partner for emergency response efforts in Iran and immediately prepared to serve affected communities as the need arose.


RI assessment teams found many families in Kermanshah living in tents with dirt floors, which are extremely cold in the winter. To protect families from freezing temperatures, RI is distributing foam mats to 400 families across 15 villages in the region. Teams also are delivering face masks to people suffering asthma and other respiratory issues caused by the dangerous levels of dust and particles of rubble the earthquake kicked up. In addition, RI is providing cash assistance to 500 families in Kermanshah who lack the funds to purchase necessities like blankets, clothes, shoes and hygiene items.

In February, RI will launch the recovery phase of its response, aimed at restoring health and economic stability to affected families. RI will help rebuild sanitation facilities such as showers and toilets, especially those for women. Teams also will offer counseling to traumatized communities. Cash assistance will help farmers purchase seeds and replenish livestock lost in the earthquake. Relief International also will distribute cash assistance to people who lost everything in the earthquake, prioritizing vulnerable families and individuals such as women-headed households, people who are sick or physically challenged. Cash assistance empowers these groups to protect themselves by purchasing medicine, improving their shelters and meeting their greatest needs.


RI’s approach to the November earthquake is based on decades of experience in Iran. Relief International was created in response to Iran’s 1990 Manjil-Rudbar earthquake, which killed more than 50,000 people and left 135,000 more destitute. RI responded again to the 2003 earthquake near Bam, in southeast Iran, which killed an estimated 26,000 people and injured 30,000.