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August 21, 2012

Treasury removes restrictions on earthquake relief in Iran

In a move that will bolster earthquake relief efforts in Iran, the Treasury Department Tuesday issued temporary general licenses to nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations that allow them to collect funds to be used directly for those efforts.

The Aug. 11 earthquake that hit the northwest region of the country has left 50,000 people homeless, said David Elliott, the assistant policy director at the National Iranian American Council. 

Previously, NGOs had to apply for a special license in order to engage in earthquake relief efforts.

“We’re very pleased to see this general license,” Elliott said. “It means more organizations can provide relief assistance more quickly.”

The general licenses are valid for the next 45 days and allow NGOs to transfer funds up to $300,000 to Iran to be used for humanitarian relief and reconstruction. The license prohibits any involvement with people or organizations that support terrorism or weapons of mass destruction.

“This will . . . show the Iranian people that the American people care about them, and that this is a humanitarian issue that transcends politics,” Elliott said. “Even though the immediate aftermath of the earthquake is over, there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

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