Two children huddle near a fire to keep warm in quake-hit Sarpol-e Zahab in December. Photo: Tahir Gholami/Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A primary school teacher has committed suicide after coming into financial difficulties and living in harsh conditions following a massive earthquake in his home region in November, killing over 600 people and injuring thousands more.
Rasoul Ghahramen, a teacher at Fajr Primary School, was found dead around 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 10.
“The teacher lived with his wife in a tent near his half-ruined home in the Tazeh Abad neighborhood of Sarpol-e Zahab and he was deprived of the right to have a conex [temporary shelter],” an informed source who chose to remain anonymous told Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN).
“He was under immense psychological pressure due to the difficulty of living in tents and the lack of facilities in the winter in addition to financial problems.”
“Unfortunately, the situation of the earthquake-stricken people in these areas is extremely critical, and more than fifty percent of the people have not received a conex and live in the tent,” the source added.
Earlier in February, Shahab Naderi, an MP, reported that 97 people had committed suicide in these areas since the earthquake struck. A representative of Paveh, Javanrood and Salas Babajani areas said that presidential promises for assistance to earthquake victims have not been fulfilled. Shelters have not been delivered and government loans have not been distributed.
“They say the earthquake is a natural disaster, but leaving the victims in the freezing cold is at our hands,” the representative said.
The November 12 earthquake, which also violently shook parts of the Kurdistan Region, especially the towns of Halabja and Darbandikhan, measured 7.3 on the Richter scale. It mostly affected the Kurdish provinces of western Iran that are among the poorest in the country.
Qasr-e Shirin and Sarpol-e Zahab were two of the worst effected Kurdish-majority Iranian towns in what was the world’s deadliest earthquake of 2017.
According to Iranian media, 620 people were killed in Kermanshah province and over 12,000 injured. The homes of thousands more were destroyed or damaged. Cheap construction of low-income housing was one of the factors behind the high death toll.
In early January, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approved $300 million in aid relief for Kermanshah province, IRNA news reported. One hundred million was to be dedicated for infrastructure like water, electricity, and renovating schools while $200 million was to be distributed as interest-free or low-interest loans through provincial banks.
Farhad Tajari, an MP for Qasr-e Shirin, claimed that MPs on governmental committees formed to evaluate the damage have reported only 50 percent of the carnage, covering up the other half.