As aid is rushed into Turkey, Syria could be left behind
What have we learned from the earthquake that struck on Monday? How the United States has responded to the Syrian crisis and what the United Nations is doing to help
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Analysts warn that the Syrians could become hostages of the politics that have divided them for over a decade after this week’s earthquake.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey in the early hours of Monday and was followed by over 100 aftershocks and a second earthquake. More than 11,000 people have been killed and hundreds of others are trapped under the rubble.
Already, UN aid to the region has been disrupted due to damage inflicted on roads by the earthquake, the UN has said. The only humanitarian aid corridor between Turkey and Syria is the Bab al-Hawa crossing.
Majzoub said residents of the northwest “live in appalling conditions, with little access to adequate shelter, water, sanitation, and healthcare, due to the Syrian government’s denial and obstruction of access to essential services.”
The Western countries don’t like the Syrian regime. As his enemies welcomed him back into the fold, he began forging ties with former enemies. Last year, Assad came to Abu Dhabi, and last month Turkey’s president said the pair might soon meet for peace talks.
“The US has been involved in the Syrian crisis for a long time,” Mao Ning, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Wednesday. “The frequent military interventions and harsh economic sanctions have caused massive civilian casualties in Syria and made it difficult for the people to obtain basic livelihood security.”
The United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and Russia have all donated to the relief efforts in Turkey.
There is less clarity about the aid situation in Syria. So far, the UAE, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Egypt, Algeria and India have already sent relief directly to regime-controlled airports. Others such as Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, China, Canada and the Vatican have pledged aid; however it is unclear if that relief will be sent directly to the regime.
Millions of people were suffering from the effects of poverty and a cholera outbreak when the earthquake hit, so aid groups like the UN were essential to the rebel areas.
“We are exploring all avenues to reach people in need and conducting assessments on feasibility,” Madevi Sun-Suon, a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA), told CNN on Tuesday. “We do have aid but this road issue is a big challenge as of now.”
The Syrian regime has called for sanctions to be lifted. Its UN envoy Sabbagh said on Tuesday that planes refused to land at Syrian airports because of American and European sanctions. “So even those countries who want to send humanitarian assistance, they cannot use the airplane cargo because of the sanctions,” he said in New York.
In November, a UN-appointed human rights expert called for the immediate lifting of unilateral sanctions against Syria, saying they are exacerbating the destruction and trauma suffered by ordinary citizens there.
The US State Department’s spokesmen said that reaching out to a government that has brutalized its citizens over the course of a dozen years is counter-productive.
The consequences of the situation would be changed if the sanctions were dropped, and the regime has a good reason to be making that argument.
Sweden’s request to join NATO as soon as Turkey is confirmed: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt lifted their boycotts of Qatar in January 2021
It is important that the announcement comes a little more than 10 days after a drone attack on a military plant in Iran that US media outlets attributed to Israel. IRNA said the new underground base was one of the country’s most important air force bases, built deep underground, housing fighters equipped with long-range cruise missiles.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Tuesday he was ready to restart stalled negotiations over Sweden’s application to join NATO as soon as Turkey was, Reuters reported.
Background: Finland and Sweden sought NATO membership shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, and while most member states have ratified the applications, Turkey has yet to give its approval in what must be a unanimous process. Turkey last week said it looks positively on Finland’s application, but does not support Sweden’s, even though the two Nordic neighbors are seeking to join at the same time.
Why it matters: The three nations last year reached an agreement on a way forward, but Ankara suspended talks last month as tensions rose following protests in Stockholm, where a far-right politician burned a copy of the Quran. Turkey goes to elections in May.
The move comes after an apparent thaw in relations. After the Arab boycott was lifted two years ago, the crown prince of Bahrain spoke to the emir of Qatar in a phone call. After a small Arab summit in Abu Dhabi the emir and king of Bahrain had a conversation.
Background: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt ended a three-year political and economic boycott of Qatar in January 2021. But since then there have been no bilateral discussions between Doha and Manama to resolve remaining differences. All but Bahrain restored travel and trade links in 2021.
A Suspended Quranic Video Account: Calling for a Response to the Musk-Facebook Discussion on the Avatar of the Bab Al Hawa Crossing
The account had more than 13 million followers before it was taken down.
The user that spoke to Musk said that it did not violate the twitter rules because it was quoted from the Holy Quran. We are asking for the lifting of the suspension of the account.
Some users weren’t upset with the suspension. Some decried the account’s use of incomplete Quranic verses that they said are taken out of context and thus change the meaning of the text.
The account owner appears to run sister accounts in English, French and German, on which it posts translations of Quranic verses. Another sister account that shows Quranic videos has been campaigning for the original account to be unblocked.
A convoy carrying shelter items and non-food items crossed the Bab Al Hawa crossing to Turkey, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The situation for people affected by the disaster in Syria is getting worse, as fresh snowfall further complicates the situation.
The administration that controls the only crossing between Turkey and Syria said this week that there was no aid arriving at the Bab al-Hawa crossing for three days.
As of Wednesday, the roads to the crossing were clear and the UN said they had blocked them after the earthquake.
Efforts to help people in areas of Syria that have been devastated by earthquakes have been difficult since the border with Turkey has been destroyed, an aid official told CNN.
Abu Muhammad Sakhour, a former merchant, is volunteering as a nurse in the rebel-held city of Idlib, dressing wounds for quake victims and checking up on the injured who have been discharged from crowded hospitals.
Why are bodies being allowed through the Bab al-Hawa crossing? The case of the Syrian doctor’s association in Gaziantep, Turkey
Protesters held signs at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing asking why bodies are being allowed through. The bodies belong to Syrian refugees who sought safety in Turkey and are now being sent back to be buried on home soil.
Muhammad Munther Atqi, from the Independent Doctor’s Association, is living out of his car with his family in Gaziantep, Turkey, but is in close contact with colleagues in Syria. He said hospitals there have been overwhelmed with bodies, and staff are waiting for families to come and identify them, so they can be taken away.
However, since 2021, Russia and China have used their veto power to reduce the number of crossings from four to just one – Bab al-Hawa. China and Russia supported the UNSC’s vote to keep it going, which was reluctantly done in order to allow aid to flow to a Syrian enclave besieged by terrorists.
We do not need the politics. We don’t need the game playing that’s going on. The international community needs to be focused on the border crossing staying open. We are moving into the humanitarian phase after the first phase of finding people. We need to provide people with basic necessities of life.
Zimbabweel’s Daughter in the Judea-Hermitian Region: Rescue, Searches, and Emergency Assistance
Local authorities say 11,000 families in the rebel-held part of Syria are now homeless after the quake. According to the UN, there have been over a thousand deaths and thousands of injuries.
The aid worker said homeless people have been sleeping in their cars as the situation in northern Syria is very difficult.
According to the country director of MedGlobal, those who are still alive underneath the rubble may die due to the cold weather.
The executive director of Deir ezzor 24, a research organization that delivers news from Syria’s Deir al-Zour province said the disaster was being used to remove sanctions. We can bring aid to Syria. Time is critical. We are playing with life and death.”
Humanitarian Partners on the ground can provide assistance in the aftermath of earthquakes. The Regime has never shown any inclination to put the welfare of its people first.
Meanwhile, “Syrians don’t know where their next meal comes from. When we say meal, it’s not about vegetables, not about meat… it’s about simple bread,” said Moutaz Adham, Oxfam’s country director for Syria.
The crowd chants “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for God is Great. Civil defense groups and volunteers are pulling a boy out of the rubble in northwestern Syria.
There are many trapped under the rubble and Rescue efforts continue. Stories of miraculous rescues, like that of a baby girl born under the rubble, are a bullhorn for what’s at stake.
NPR was able to reach her by phone. He spoke from Jinderes, a part of Syria’s Aleppo province that’s under opposition control. He said countless buildings there have collapsed. People are waiting for help in the cold. Aftershocks have made buildings still standing unlivable.
humanitarian aid and international aid have not arrived in 72 hours, he said, describing the small help that is trickled into the region as a haphazard grassroots effort by individual groups.
Civildefense groups are carrying out rescue efforts, while civilians are trying to help. “Everyone’s waiting for international rescue and aid just to be able to process what’s happened, this catastrophe.”
Five percent of the sites reported to be in north-west Syria have not been covered by search and rescue, according to the U.N’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
In northwestern Syria, where there is little heavy machinery to lift rubble, people are digging with their own hands. Power outages have resulted in fuel shortages in hospitals.