STORY: Earthquake Relief Update Syria, Türkiye: OCHA, ICRC, IFRC
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
RELEASED: 17 February 2023
Aid convoys will continue cross-border into Syria ‘for as long as needs are there’: UN aid teams
UN aid trucks filled with vital relief support continue to cross the border from southern Türkiye into northwest Syria to help communities enduring terrible trauma caused by last week’s earthquake disaster – “and (they) will continue every day for as long as the needs are there”, UN aid teams said on Friday.
“Since 9 February and up to last night we have a total of 143 trucks going through the Bab al-Hawa and Bab al-Salam border crossings,” said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “The movements continue today, they continue over the weekend and will continue every day for as long as the needs are there.”
According to the OCHA spokesperson, there are no obstacles to cross-border aid.
“The information that I have is that all the roads through all the crossing points are passable and you can drive there, so that’s a good thing,” he said. “I was myself at Bab al-Hawa a couple of - a few days ago - and the trucks were indeed rolling across.”
Amid massive devastation in both Türkiye and Syria after the double quake strike on 6 February, relief workers have stressed that the full extent of disaster is still unfolding.
UN-led flash appeals for both countries have been issued this week – for Türkiye, a $1 billion request for three months to help 5.2 million people, and for nearly five million people in Syrian, a $397 million humanitarian appeal – jumpstarted by a $50 million funding injection from the the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund.
At least 8.8 million people in Syria are known to have been affected by the earthquake, with the majority anticipated to need some form of humanitarian assistance, as relief teams have seen first-hand in Aleppo.
“I was quite overwhelmed by not only the magnitude of the destruction but the loss that was inflicted on families, you know, during only 60 seconds,” said Fabrizio Carboni, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Regional Director for the Near and Middle East.
“For the first time I saw that there was not only a crack, and cracks in the buildings, but for the first time I really saw that our colleagues, the people you talked to in Syria, they were really wounded and something is broken.”
Speaking to journalists in Geneva, the ICRC official also issued a strong appeal for crossline aid deliveries from Damascus to be allowed through: “We tried to get into Idlib through crossline and so far we’ve been blocked, unfortunately. So, I don’t have first-hand information on the roads and access but yeah, we’re ready to get in but we are so far blocked to do crossline, hoping that this could change soon.”
Needs remain massive but the international response is gaining momentum, both in Türkiye and Syria, confirmed Caroline Holt, global director for operations at The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC): “In Türkiye, we’re very much supporting with the Turkish Red Crescent on the ground to support with shelter needs, with food, with wash, with health and also with cash.
“In Syria, we are working of course through and with our partner the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to support people with basic needs and household items, including health, psychosocial support and of course WASH, because of course, access to clean and safe water as we know in these situations is absolutely critical to avoid that second potential disaster, that second health disaster unfolding.”