STORY: UN Special Envoy on Syria Geir Pedersen – Earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria
TRT: 1 min 56
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 9 February 2023 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
As a United Nations aid convoy reached Syria on Thursday for the first time since devastating earthquakes cut off supply lines from Türkiye three days ago, UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, called for assurances that there would be no political obstacles to delivering the much-needed assistance inside Syria.
“We need to do everything to make sure that there are no impediments whatsoever to delay lifesaving support that is needed in Syria,” he said. “I have been discussing this in particular with the representatives from the United States and from the European Union and they assured me that they will do whatever they can to make sure that there are no impediments to assistance coming to Syria to help in this operation.”
Mr. Pedersen’s appeal followed a meeting of a Humanitarian Taskforce for Syria which was created in 2017 and that the Special Envoy chairs to facilitate aid deliveries to the war-torn country. “I was struck by the unity in the meeting we had today by all the different Member States that participated,” Mr. Pedersen said. He added that “when it comes to cross border (aid deliveries), as you know, we had a problem because the roads leading to the border crossing have been destroyed.”
Rescuers have continued to pull more people alive from the rubble, but the chances of finding trapped survivors are diminishing fast, 72 hours after the initial 7.8 magnitude quake close struck to Gaziantep, Türkiye, followed by another 7.5 magnitude earthquake several hours later.
The combined, confirmed, death toll in Syria and Türkiye is now more than 17.000 people. With more victims expected, the UN Syria Envoy asked for “access and resources irrespective of borders and boundaries as people need more of absolutely everything”.
He added: “The number of casualties continues to rise as we are speaking in both countries and there are still too many people who are under the rubble in the freezing cold. The earthquake struck as the humanitarian crisis in northwest Syria was already worsening, with needs at their highest level since the conflict began.”
Almost 12 years into Syria’s devastating civil war, the country faces massive economic hardship and one of the world’s largest displacement crises with the majority of the population in need of humanitarian aid. Prior to the earthquake, and based on assessments, the UN calculated that more than four million people in northwest Syria depended on cross-border aid alone.
Syria is divided into areas under the control of the Syrian government, opposition forces and other armed groups. Government and opposition areas have been hit particularly hard by the earthquake.
“We need support to go into the northwest, we need support to go into the government-controlled areas that have been particularly hit, Aleppo and Hama …and we know that some support is already coming in to the airports in Aleppo and also to Damascus,” Mr. Pedersen said.
In all affected parts of Syria, humanitarians report an urgent need for logistic, skilled rescue teams and temporary shelters. The UN is helping to mobilize emergency teams and relief operations, and many countries have rushed to offer support.