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Relief International issues an urgent appeal for earthquake-stricken northwest Syria

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Doctors Without Borders International on Sunday called for an “urgent increase” in earthquake aid for northwest Syria.

The call came as the Geneva-based organization delivered a convoy of emergency aid to the region.

Aid has been slow to reach Syrian opposition-held areas since the February 6 earthquake that killed a total of more than 44,000 people across Turkey and Syria.

“Supplies are urgently needed to keep up with the scale of the humanitarian crisis,” said the French aid organization Doctors Without Borders.

It charged that supplies had “failed at present even to match pre-earthquake volumes”.

“The aid is flowing in insignificant amounts at the moment,” said Hakim Al-Khalidi, MSF’s head of mission in Syria. “We emptied our emergency stocks in three days.”

Doctors Without Borders said, “According to UN data, five days after the earthquake, only 10 trucks entered” opposition-held areas in Syria through the Bab al-Hawa crossing from Turkey.

“In the 10 days following the earthquake, fewer trucks crossed the border into northwestern Syria than the weekly average for 2022,” she added.

A convoy of 14 trucks loaded with 1,269 tents and winter kits sent by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to Syria arrived through the Hammam crossing in the Afrin district on Sunday.

“The handover was arranged outside the UN cross-border humanitarian mechanism,” the organization said.

Activists and emergency teams in northwestern Syria have criticized the UN’s slow response to the earthquake in opposition-held areas, and contrasted it with shipments of aircraft being delivered to government-held airports.

Before the earthquake, all essential humanitarian aid to the more than 4 million people living in opposition-held areas was delivered through just one crossing, Bab al-Hawa.

On Monday, the United Nations announced that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had agreed to open two more border crossings from Turkey into northwestern Syria to allow aid.

Since the earthquake, the United Nations has sent more than 170 aid trucks to northwest Syria.

The conflict in Syria began in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests and escalated to attract foreign powers and terrorists.

Almost half a million people were killed, and the conflict forced about half of the country’s pre-war population to leave their homes.

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