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The United Nations is calling for nearly $400 million to help the victims of the Syria earthquake

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On Tuesday, the United Nations launched an appeal to raise $397 million to help the earthquake victims in Syria, in which nearly 6,000 people have been killed and millions displaced by the disaster in the country.

Announcing the appeal at UN headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the money would provide “life-saving relief” for nearly 5 million Syrians and would cover a three-month period.

He added that the world body was in the final stages of a similar appeal to Turkey.

“After a week of devastating earthquakes, millions of people across the region are struggling to survive, homeless and in freezing temperatures. We are doing everything we can to change this. But more is needed,” Guterres pleaded.

He called on Member States to “fully fund this effort without delay and help the millions of children, women and men whose lives have been turned upside down by this disaster.”

He also urged Guterres to allow aid workers to operate freely in Syria, which is already reeling from a 12-year civil war.

Activists and emergency teams in northwestern Syria deplored the slow UN response to the earthquake in rebel-held areas, and opposed it with aircraft shipments of humanitarian aid being delivered to government-held airports.

Before the earthquake, all essential humanitarian aid to the more than four million people living in rebel-held areas of northwest Syria was being delivered through just one crossing.

On Monday, Guterres announced that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had agreed to open two more border crossings from Turkey into northwest Syria to allow aid in.

“Human suffering from this epic natural disaster should not be exacerbated by man-made barriers – such as access, financing and supplies,” said the UN Secretary-General.

“Help must pass from all quarters, to all sides, by all avenues — without any strings attached.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Guterres about possible aid on Tuesday, and called for possible international pressure to open border crossings, the State Department said.

“Secretary Blinken stressed the need for the Assad regime to live up to its commitment, as stated in the UN report of February 13, to open the Bab al-Salam and al-Rai crossings for humanitarian purposes, including through a Security Council mandate, if necessary.” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

The United Nations has already provided $50 million through its Central Emergency Response Fund.

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