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Relief Official Contradicts Rouhani's Claim On Lack Of Absolute Poverty In Iran

Addicts and homeless people who sleet in graves in Nasir Abad in Shahriar, near Tehran. File photo

The Head of Iran’s Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation says its research two years ago showed the number of poor citizens, unable to afford food and clothing had “reached shocking levels” in 32 townships in the country.

Morteza Bakhtiari who was speaking at a scientific symposium on Sunday did not disclose any details but said, “The government budget covers just 46.7 percent of our costs”.

The Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation was established in 1979, immediately after the Islamic Revolution and its mission is to help needy families overcome poverty.

President Hassan Rouhani announced in a cabinet meeting on December 11 that the government has increased its appropriations to deal with poverty. But he also quoted the head of the Relief Foundation as saying that there is no absolute poverty in Iran.

Today’s remark by Bakhtiari does not directly contradict Rouhani’s claim, since he is quoting a report from two years ago, but indirectly it casts doubt on the president’s insistence that there is no absolute poverty.

Moreover, in 2017 Parviz Fattah the head of the Relief Foundation at the time had said, “There are 10-12 million Iranians in absolute poverty”.

In the meantime, U.S. sanctions, a devalued currency and rising inflation have made living conditions much worse than 2017. It is not clear what is the basis of Rouhani’s claim about lack of absolute poverty in Iran.