The Assad regime allows aid to be delivered to the opposition areas hit by the earthquake
The Assad regime has finally agreed to deliver humanitarian aid through opposition-held areas of Syria, which have been devastated by two earthquakes centered in southeastern Turkey.
Syrian state media reported on Friday that aid will reach those in need with the help of the United Nations, the Syrian Red Crescent and the International Red Cross.
The regime has also declared the areas most affected by Monday’s deadly earthquake – Latakia, Hama, Aleppo and Idlib – disaster areas and will establish a fund for their rehabilitation.
Meanwhile, the United Nations said on Friday it was rapidly depleting aid stocks it had in Syria before the devastating earthquake and needed rapid resupply to support the millions affected.
UN agencies said the response to Monday’s earthquake, which killed at least 22,000 people in Turkey and Syria, would continue beyond the immediate life-saving search and rescue phase.
The Bab al-Hawa crossing from Turkey is currently the only way for the UN to help reach civilians in war-torn Syria without going through regime-held areas. Meanwhile, the Syrian regime is under international sanctions.
The United Nations has called for depoliticization of disaster response, as it looks to replenish its warehouse.
“We cannot accept any hurdles in this situation,” said Katharina Bohme, from the WHO headquarters team.
“We need to ensure access to aid and health care for all those in need. Collectively as the United Nations, it will be measured whether we can enable this,” she told a news briefing in Geneva.
Corinne Fleischer, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, said the WFP has pre-positioned stocks in northwest Syria of ready-to-eat food for 125,000 people and enough family rations, which need to be cooked, for 1.4 million people for a month. One.
It has already reached 30,000 people with prepared food and the rest is being distributed.
“We are running out of stock and we need access to new stock,” Fleischer said via video link from Cairo.
“Natural disasters know no borders and neither does humanitarian aid. Let us be able to replenish our stocks in northwest Syria.”
Planning for the future
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, had 30,000 core relief items – mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, plastic sheeting, jerry cans and sleeping mats – and 20,000 tents pre-positioned in Syria before the earthquake.
“We have been distributing them since day one,” said Sivanka Dhanapala, UNHCR Representative in the country.
“A lot of this is being sent and now needs to be refilled ASAP,” he said via video link.
The Agency’s immediate response is focused on shelter and relief items and ensuring that collective centers receiving the displaced have adequate facilities.
“We’re also looking at what happens in four, eight, 12 weeks,” Dhanapala said.
“When we look at eight to 12 weeks, we look at supporting livelihoods and basic services in affected areas,” he said, including trying to make minor repairs to damaged housing.
“In the long term, we will consider removing the rubble” and trying to mobilize engineers, he added.