Anger over 'double standard' aid sent to Syria despite urgent need in Iran's quake-hit regions

Anger over 'double standard' aid sent to Syria despite urgent need in Iran's quake-hit regions
Iranians lambast the government's double standards over sending needed humanitarian aid to earthquake-hit regions in Syria and Iran.
2 min read
13 February, 2023
A man is seen on the rubble of the destroyed Habib-i Neccar mosque, destroyed by the earthquake. [Getty]

The Iranian authorities' immediate move to help Syria after the 6 February deadly earthquake and its slow and insufficient response to those affected by the 18 January earthquake in the Iranian province of West Azerbaijan caused outrage among Iranians in the country.

Iran is the leading supporter of the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria, and less than 24 hours after the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, a plane with 45 tons of food, medicine and emergency aid landed in Damascus.

At the same time, photos on social media and official outlets' reports from the Iranian city of Khoy, where a 5.9-magnitude earthquake had occurred earlier this year, showed that days after the quake, people still lived on snow-covered streets without a shelter.

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Compared to Syria, the damages in Iran were much smaller in scope and scale, however, many Iranians went on social media, criticising the government for paying more attention to those affected by a natural disaster in Syria.

"Today, the Islamic Republic's humanitarian aid arrived in Syria by planes and trucks. Thank's a lot. But why the share the people in Khoy received was anti-riot police?" asked on Twitter, Iranian journalist Amir Dadashi. 

His question referred to deploying an armoured water cannon truck to disperse those waiting to receive tents in Khoy after January's quake.

Another Iranian social media user posted, "how I wish Khoy were also in Syria," along with photos of destroyed houses in Khoy and the Iranian aid plane in Syria. 

What increased Iranians' anger over the government's negligence was a video that went viral on social media days after the Khoy earthquake, revealing that the officials were aware of the lack of aid in the quake-hit region. 

In the video, captured amid the ruins in Khoy, vice president Mohammad Mokhber, talking to members of Iran's Red Crescent Society, complained: "people have set up makeshift tents in the mud and water … four days have passed … they have no food, no water, no tent".

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Outrage over the government's delay in providing the needed aid to over 40,000 Iranians who could no more live in their homes was also reflected on official outlets in the country, despite the authorities' heavy censorship.

"The earthquake in Khoy have not had a massive death toll like in Syria and Turkey, but thousands of people in Khoy have lost their homes and, in the cold winter, urgently need tents, blankets, food and heaters," wrote the economic website Tejarat News.

"When people of Khoy are going through difficult days, if they look up at the sky, they can see the planes transferring the government's humanitarian aid to Syria," Tejarat News concluded.