NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Iran’s government is now open to outside help with relief efforts in the aftermath of twin earthquakes that devastated rural villages in northwest Iran Aug. 11, killing at least 306 people. As a result, Southern Baptists are exploring ways to help.
Initially, Iran declined offers of assistance from other countries, but on Aug. 14 Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said Iran is now welcoming assistance from abroad for the quake victims, mostly in the form of direct donations the government will manage.
Southern Baptist disaster relief efforts, however, typically are conducted in cooperation with on-the-ground partners already in country, said Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response (BGR). During previous disaster responses in Iran, Southern Baptists formed relationships with humanitarian groups in Iran, and BGR now is evaluating whether those channels might provide an opportunity to help.
It still remains unlikely Southern Baptists will mount an on-ground relief effort, Palmer added.
More than 3,000 people were injured by the earthquakes, according to news reports, and an estimated 50,000 people lost their homes. At least 12 villages were destroyed and 425 others sustained serious damage. Many roads and other infrastructure were heavily damaged. Relief workers are distributing tents, blankets, food and water.
Palmer asked Christians to pray for families affected by the earthquakes.
“We are asking God to make His great love known to all those who are suffering,” Palmer said. “We pray Christ will reveal his compassion and give comfort to people who are crying out in their distress.”