Victims Should Be Provided with Accommodation As Soon As Possible

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on November 21, 2017 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with the government officials of the Islamic Republic. The meeting was held to coordinate responses to the earthquake that occurred in Kermanshah province on November 12.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master Muhammad, and upon his pure, immaculate and infallible household

I thank God for bestowing the opportunity upon the honorable officials to rush towards helping their compatriots and the dear people of this province in this bitter and painful incident. Earthquakes are one of the divine signs. This earthquake and other worldly earthquakes, in the face of which we feel desperate and weak, are nothing compared to the earthquake that happens on Judgment Day: "The earthquake of the hour of Judgement" [The Holy Quran, 22: 1]. "The Day you shall see it, every mother shall forget her suckling baby" [The Holy Quran, 22: 2].

The earthquake that will happen on Judgment Day and on Resurrection Day is an extraordinary, astonishing and grave incident which is mentioned by the Holy Quran. This earthquake should remind us of that one. The recent earthquake is not comparable to that one in terms of significance, graveness and the heaviness of one's sins. Nonetheless, we feel weak in the face of worldly earthquakes, let alone that one.

If we intend to save ourselves from the sufferings of Judgement Day and the fear that all humans feel then because of those astonishing events, one of the ways is to show mercy on God's servants in this world. Anyone who shows mercy on God's servants will receive God's mercy. "Showing mercy" does not mean looking down upon people. So, we do not need to say that the people's position and status is much higher than such notions. The people's status is very high. The dignity of the people of Kermanshah is evident to all those who know this province and these people. However, we should carry out our responsibilities.

Today, I paid a visit to Sarpol-e Zahab city and a number of villages there. The city has suffered a heavy loss, but the loss that villages have suffered is not comparable to the city in some cases. The loss is very heavy. We saw a village or villages which seemed to have been completely levelled. Well, this is a very important incident. Because we ourselves have not been victimized by the earthquake, we do not understand the sufferings of the people. Everyone who will hear these statements should pay attention.

You hear that the injured need such and such amenities, foods and the like. Well, the people made efforts along with officials and they provided those things for them. But this is not the main problem of the earthquake victims. A person who used to live a comfortable and peaceful life in his own house and with his family members – in such an environment – now sees that everything that he once had has been collected in a tent! We went inside the tents and visited some of them. The dimensions were 2×3, 2.5×3.5, and 3×4. The victims were suffering from cold, heat and lack of space. This is not a good life.

These are things whose significance we should grasp meticulously and then we should find out what our duties are on the basis of that significance. The same is true of floods. In the past – during my youth – I was present, for a long time, in both earthquake and flood rescue teams. Floods and earthquakes inflict damage in different ways, but they are like each other in certain ways.

We need two things on the issue of earthquakes: one is rescue and another is aid. Rescue missions are related to the initial hours. Thankfully, the organized presence of the Army, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and the Police Force helped carry out rescue missions in an almost satisfactory way. If in the earthquake that I witnessed – with the destruction that it caused – rescue missions had not been carried out in the initial hours and at a considerable speed, the number of causalities would have been several times more. Of course, I did not go to Qasr-e Shirin, and to Islam Abad. I did not visit many villages which have been destroyed. I did not go to Khusravi, to Thalath-e Babajani and to many other destroyed areas. So, one task is rescue which is a very important task and which should be carried out in the initial hours.

This is the reason why I organized a meeting after the Bam earthquake with the government officials of those days. This is the reason why I myself participated in those meetings – which lasted several hours – and why we decided to established a crisis committee. The crisis committee's job begins from the first moment that a crisis begins. Primarily, there should be organization and systematic work. This is because earthquakes do not announce their arrival. The same is true of floods. Natural disasters do not announce their arrival. They happen at once. Therefore, we should be present. The crisis committee should be present.

It should act like our border guards. The border guards whom we put in border areas in order to confront the enemy should always be present. This is because the enemy does not say to us that he is coming. He might suddenly attack. Border guards should always be present. Confronting natural disasters requires more preparedness. The crisis committee should be a hundred percent prepared throughout the country. And this is possible. This is not something which is impossible.

We can plan shifts for guards so that individuals are always ready and so that there will be a clear organization. This is about the issue of rescue which is related to the initial hours. This task was thankfully carried out in a fairly satisfactory way. They thankfully did their best to attend to the victims and those who had been trapped under the rubble.

The second issue is about the issue of aid. Although this issue requires speed as well, it is not a matter of great urgency and it is not a task that comes to an end. Aid programs have different sections and areas each of which is significant at a specific time. They should be carried out at that specific time. It is clear that the first thing is urgent needs such as food. When a natural disaster occurs, the first thing that people need is water and food which should be provided at once. This is related to the beginning. After that, they need amenities, clothing and the like.

However, the most important thing is the issue of accommodation. In the present time, you should see how the rubble from the destroyed villages can be moved and transferred. This is a very great and difficult task which should definitely be carried out. The next issue is the issue of building houses and reconstructing the villages and cities. This is a very important issue which should be carried out at great speed.

I saw the tents. In one of the tents, I asked a lady, "Have you received plastic for the tent?" She said, "Yes, we have." Later on, I became embarrassed at that question. Very well, they have received plastic, but does plastic work miracles? How should heat be provided for children, for the elderly and for the sick in such cold weather, in this season and at night? First of all, with necessary measures, they should begin to build houses and as long as accommodation is not provided, they should provide heating equipment. A lot of work should be done in this regard. Many efforts should be made. A heavy responsibility falls on officials.

There should be a center in charge of this. The existence of a center is necessary in distributing the facilities among the earthquake victims. A necessary task in these areas is the existence of a center. All tasks should be centralized. There should be a center which manages all tasks. Everyone should work and make efforts. Everyone can receive the shares, but the existence of a united management is necessary. This is related to distributing the facilities which is gradually being done.

The next issue is the issue of providing accommodation and the issue of reconstruction. This requires centralized management as well. It requires fundamental measures and speed, and the administration should offer all kinds of support in this regard. Different organizations – whether military or non-military – should accept their duties, each within the remit of its capability. They should carry out this duty. This is a very important task.

Of course, I know that some officials have made many efforts until today and that they have carried out many tasks. I really and sincerely thank all you for the tasks that have been carried out, particularly those who showed great determination and who entered the arena in a serious manner in order to work. Their reward is really well-preserved by Allah the Exalted. I thank them too. However, in my opinion, this task of centralizing activities is more necessary, important and fundamental in the future.

In particular, taking prompt action should receive attention. You should act quickly. You should pursue the task in a jihadi manner. One of the qualities of the Islamic Republic should be jihadi work. Fortunately, this is the case in certain areas. In some areas, we can see that the task is carried out in a jihadi manner. Before the Revolution, we used to see the behavior of the officials. They did not really have any sense of responsibility towards such matters. I witnessed this up close at that time. I saw that the issue of earthquake victims was not an important issue to them. They did not really take them into consideration. They only wanted to do something as a show.

It was popular forces which used to carry out the tasks. However, today this is not the case. Thankfully, officials are in the arena working and endeavoring. This is one of the characteristics of the Islamic Republic. However, from now on, the honorable gentlemen and officials should accomplish the task with better management, by doing follow-up and at a faster rate, God willing. The issue of centralization that I discussed should definitely receive attention so that the task will produce results, God willing.

I hope that Allah the Exalted bestows His blessings, facilitates the tasks and clears the path so that you can carry out your duties and help the people get out of this big trouble that has occurred, God willing.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings




  • Kermanshah
  • Kermanshah Earthquake