UN: The world was slow to send aid to Syria after the earthquake
The international community and the Syrian government last month failed to act quickly enough to help people in need in the rebel-held northwest after a deadly earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, a UN panel said.
Geneva — The international community and the Syrian government did not act quickly last month to help those in need in the rebel-held northwest after a deadly earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, a UN panel said on Monday.
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake on February 6 and strong aftershocks that devastated southern Turkey and northwestern Syria killed more than 50,000 people, including more than 6,000 in Syria.
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria needs to investigate why it took a week for border crossings to open for aid to flow in. He added that war-torn Syria “now needs a comprehensive ceasefire that is fully respected” for the safety of civilians, including aid workers.
It took a week for the UN and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government to agree to open two more border crossings in the rebel-held border with Turkey, as many are still trapped under the rubble.
“Since the earthquake, we have seen many measures taken by the Syrians themselves to help the victims,” Paulo Pinheiro, a member of the commission, said at a press conference in Geneva. He added: “We have also witnessed the complete failure of the government and the international community, including the UN, to quickly direct urgent life-saving aid to northwestern Syria.
“Many days passed without helping the earthquake survivors,” Pinheiro said. “Actors did not quickly direct urgent life-saving aid to northwest Syria, which has become the epicenter of neglect.”
A week after the earthquake, the United Nations announced that Syrian President Bashir Assad had agreed to open two new crossings from Turkey into the rebel-held northwest of the country for three months to bring in much-needed aid and equipment to help earthquake victims. Prior to this, the UN could only deliver aid to the Idlib region at Bab al-Hawa via a single crossing, at the insistence of Syria’s ally Russia.
“They were unable to provide international emergency aid, including rescue teams and equipment, in the first week after the earthquake,” Pinheiro said, adding that “for good reason, Syrians felt abandoned and neglected by those who should protect them in their most desperate time.”
“Many voices are rightfully demanding … investigation and accountability to understand how this failure, this disaster, happened beyond the earthquake,” Pinheiro said.