Friday, August 17, 2012

Post #316 - Earthquake Relief

Many are wondering how Americans can be helpful to the people of Iran who were affected by the serious (6.5. Richter) earthquake in northwestern Iran.

Today, members of the White House staff, responding to a call from the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and the West Asia Council, held an off-the-record conference call to clarify factors related to economic sanctions that affect the public's ability to engage in philanthropic response to the disaster. The call was announced by D. Paul Monteiro, Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement. Representatives of the State Department, Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Agency for International Development were on the call to answer questions.

A summary of the content of the call was distributed by NIAC afterwards:

"During the call, the Treasury Department indicated that they have received very few applications from nonprofit organizations seeking to contribute to earthquake relief efforts. NIAC believes the expense and complication of applying for specific licenses has deterred many organizations from providing relief assistance, and NIAC reiterated the recommendation that the administration issue a general license that would facilitate more rapid disaster assistance from more organizations.

Official guidance is posted here:

NIAC went on to say: "This week, NIAC also worked closely with Congressman Kucinich (D-OH) to advance a letter urging President Obama to issue such a general license and for the 'administration to provide public guidance that financial institutions are permitted and encouraged to facilitate all legal transactions that have been licensed by the U.S. Government.'
"The Kucinich letter was also signed by Representatives Keith Ellison (D-MN), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Donna F. Edwards (D-MD), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Michael M. Honda (D-CA), John L. Mica (R-FL), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), John W. Olver (D-MA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), André Carson (D-IN) and Barbara Lee (D-CA)."

Other non-profits seeking to help include:

Moms against Poverty (they obtained a license to provide temporary shelter, food, medicine, and trauma counseling)
Relief International (application pending)
Children of Persia (application pending)
Child Foundation (shipping emergency supplies)
Iranian American Muslim Association of North America (shipping emergency supplies)

American Red Cross is not accepting funds for Iranian relief efforts, at this time, because it Iranian counterpart, The Iranian Red Crescent, is not yet accepting aid from other Red Cross entities.

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