US blocking humanitarian aid to flood-hit Iranians: Qassemi

Press TV – Tehran says the United States has frozen the accounts of the Iranian Red Crescent Society as part of its cruel sanctions against the Iranian people, thus preventing other countries from sending humanitarian aid to people in Iran’s flood-stricken areas.

“Given that the accounts of the Iranian Red Crescent have been blocked [due to US sanctions], no foreign citizen or Iranian national living abroad is able to send any relief aid to flood-hit people,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi told IRNA on Tuesday.

This measure exposes the American officials’ hostile approach towards the Iranian nation and counters all their “ridiculous” claims that the sanctions do not target the people of Iran, Qassemi said.

At least 57 people have been killed in the past two weeks in floods and extreme weather conditions in various Iranian provinces, from north to south, following the heaviest downpours in the country in at least a decade.

Iran has announced a state of emergency in several provinces threatened by flooding and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes in the affected provinces, where dozens of villages have been evacuated already.

Qassemi further said, “Usually, even in difficult and emergency conditions, not all banking systems will be blocked and the dispatch of humanitarian aid will be possible through bodies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, but the US has blocked all aid delivery channels in an inhumane and cruel move.”

The Iranian spokesperson urged the international community and international relief organizations to stand against Washington’s vicious act.

“The US must be held accountable for all the consequences of preventing the dispatch of aid to Iran’s flood-stricken people,” Qassemi pointed out.

The Qassemi further highlighted the severe damage caused by the floods across Iran, calling on international institutions to take swift measures to help the flood-hit people, particularly at a time when the lack of certain equipment such as choppers is hindering rescue operations.

US President Donald Trump withdrew his country in May 2018 from the multilateral Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and decided to re-impose unilateral sanctions against Tehran.

In November 2018, the Trump administration announced the re-imposition of the “toughest” sanctions ever against Iran, with a special focus on its banking and energy sectors. The bans returned in place in two phases later that year.

On Monday, a senior Trump administration official said the US government is considering additional sanctions against Iran that would target areas of its economy that have not been hit before.

On the same topic, Iran’s foreign minister said on Monday that the US is waging “economic terrorism” against the Islamic Republic by employing restrictive measures that are troubling the relief efforts targeting flood-stricken people across the country.

Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted the remarks, saying the sanctions are “impeding aid efforts by Iranian Red Crescent to all communities devastated by unprecedented floods. Blocked equipment includes relief choppers.”

Back in December, the top Iranian diplomat once again reiterated the ineffectiveness of US sanctions with regard to causing any change in the Islamic Republic’s policies, saying that they only hurt “ordinary Iranians.”