Soon after learning of the earthquake near the Iranian city of Bam, the U.S. government began rushing aid to the area. Many private charitable groups in the U.S. are also sending large amounts of aid to Iranians.
One of the first disaster relief groups to act was AmeriCares, based in the state of Connecticut. Within days, the group airlifted thirty-five tons of supplies to help survivors. The supplies include four health kits, each containing basic medicine and provisions for thirty-thousand people for one month. As AmeriCares official Marven Moss said, “The U.S. public has a tradition of sending assistance to people in need around the globe.” Other U.S. charities sending aid to Iran include the American Red Cross, the California-based Direct Relief International, and the Oregon-based Mercy Corps. Margaret Larson, a Mercy Corps official, says it is essential to get aid to the tens of thousands made homeless by the earthquake:
“It’s very cold. . .getting more blankets and tents for families, then obviously food and clean water. And then our secondary concern would be what may be the emergent health needs. In situations like this, it is very common for the clean water supply to be disrupted and for there to be disease outbreaks.”
Several groups established by Iranian-Americans are also helping the earthquake victims. They include the National Iranian American Council in Washington, the Maryland-based Children of Persia, and Earthquake Relief Funds for Orphans.
This not the first time that Americans have stepped forward to help victims of natural disasters in Iran. After major earthquakes in 1990, 1997, and 2002, the U.S. government, as well as private humanitarian groups, provided aid to Iranians. But this does not mean that Americans have changed their views about the repressive nature of Iran’s government, says President George W. Bush:
“The Iranian government must listen to the voices of those who long for freedom, must turn over al-Qaida that are in their custody, and must abandon their nuclear weapons program.”
In the meantime, says President Bush, “It’s right to take care of people when they hurt, and we’re doing that.”