International humanitarian aid arrives in Istanbul and Syria from the first quake since January 2015: The center of excellence in Damascus, Turkey
The center of excellence has centers in many places around the globe, but its largest is in Dubai, with 20 warehouses. From here, the organization is sending planeloads of medicine, IV drips and anesthesia, surgical instruments, splints and stretchers to help with crushing type injuries from the earthquake.
Organizations are struggling to reach the most vulnerable in Turkey despite the influx of aid from around the world. The hope of finding someone alive is fading with every hour, and rescue teams are racing to reach survivors in the cold.
Color-coded labels help identify which kits are for malaria, cholera, Ebola and polio for countries in need around the world. The emergency health kits in Istanbul and Damascus are only available with green labels.
The WHO’s response to the earthquake involved trauma and emergency surgery kits.
A California native who served as a firefighter and later worked in the Foreign Service and the US Agency for International Development is working at the World Health Organization. The organization faces immense logistical challenges reaching the victims of the earthquake but their warehouses allow aid to be delivered quickly to countries in need.
A United Nations aid convoy crossed from Turkey into northwest Syria Thursday for the first time since Monday’s earthquake, amid the struggle to get international help into a region beset by years of conflict and an acute humanitarian crisis.
“The weather conditions are now not looking so great. So it just depends on the condition of the roads, the availability of the trucks and then the permission to cross the border and deliver the humanitarian aid,” he says.
The long-running civil war in Syria is complicating the delivery of urgent supplies to earthquake hit areas of north Syria. Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad says any aid it receives must go through the capital Damascus.
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“They can’t go back to their homes since their homes haven’t been assessed as being sound,” he says. “They’re literally sleeping and living in the office and trying to do work at the same time.”
The International Humanitarian City is the largest humanitarian hub in the world and has 1.5 million square feet of warehouse space. The U.N. refugee agency, the World Food Program, Red Cross, and many other organizations are located in the zone.
The government of Dubai covers the cost of storage facilities, utilities and flights carrying relief items into affected areas. The inventory is purchased by the agencies.
$150 million of emergency stock is dispatched every year to between 120 and 150 countries. That includes personal protective equipment, tents, food and other critical items needed in climate disasters, medical emergencies and global outbreaks, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The reason we are doing quite a lot and the reason why this hub became the largest one in the world is exactly because of its strategic position,” Saba says. Twothirds of the world’s population live in Southeast Asia, Middle East and Africa.
A problem with the engine of the plane resulted in the WHO supplies for Damascus not being able to be delivered. Blanchard says the organization is trying for direct flights to Syria’s government-controlled airport in Aleppo, a situation he describes as “evolving by the hour.”
Conditions for the 10.9 million people affected by the disaster in Syria are being further hit as fresh snowfall worsened the situation further for people across five governorates, according to the UN.
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The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) said Thursday’s convoy, made up of six trucks carrying shelter items and Non Food Items (NFI), crossed through the Bab Al Hawa crossing – the only humanitarian aid corridor between Turkey and Syria.
The delivery on Thursday ends a three-day period during which no aid arrived at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing from Turkey to rebel-held areas of northern Syria – just 300 bodies, according to the administration that controls the only access point between the two countries.
Immediately after the quake, the United Nations said roads to the crossing were blocked, but as of Wednesday they were clear, raising questions as to why it was taking so long for help to arrive.
70 countries and 14 international organizations have given teams of rescuers, Donations and aid in just a few hours in Turkey, which is worse off in Syria.
The delivery of urgent supplies to quake-hit areas of northern Syria has been complicated by a long-running civil war between opposition forces and the Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, who is accused of killing his own people.
A former merchant is volunteering in the besieged city of Idlib as a nurse, checking on the injured patients who have been released from crowded hospitals, and treating earthquake victims.
At the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, protesters hold signs asking why only 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.
Affected survivors are facing challenges as water supplies dwindle and disease threatens to spread. The earthquake has made it difficult for people in Syria to get food and even bread, according to Moutaz Adham, the country director for the charity.
There has been “no investment” in the isolated region for over a decade, said Kieran Barnes, Syria Country Director for the humanitarian organization Mercy Corps. He claimed that thousands of people are living in temporary shelters with no access to water.
According to Doctors without Borders, the UN Security Council resolution on cross-border aid allowed access to be restricted, but they did not mention access to the area.
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. In January, the UNSC voted to keep it open, and its ambassador said that it allowed aid to flow to a Syrian enclave that was populated by terrorists.
“We don’t need the politics. We don’t need the game being played. What we do need is for the international community to focus on the border crossing staying open,” Barnes added. We’re past the first phase of finding people and we’re going into the humanitarian phase. We need to provide people with basic shelter, food, and water.”
The number of people who needed humanitarian assistance before the earthquake had been 15.3 million, but that number will now have to be revised, El- Mostafa Benlamlih said.
An aid worker distributing supplies across cities in northern Syria told CNN on Thursday that homeless people have been sleeping in their cars amid a “very, very difficult,” situation.
The director of a US-based charity said those who are still alive might die from the cold weather.
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Relief has been sent to airports by Russia, the United Arab emirates, and Iraq. Other countries, including China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Canada, have also pledged aid.
The Syrian government is calling for sanctions on the country to be lifted. Some Western countries have imposed trade sanctions on Syria, including banned items such as weapons and equipment.
“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. There were enormous civilian casualties in Syria due to the military interventions and harsh economic sanctions.
The executive director of Deir Ezzor 24, a research organization that delivers news from Syria’s Deir al-Zour province, said that he was using the disaster to remove sanctions. We are able to bring aid to Syria. Time isn’t good. We are playing with life and death.”
“It would be quite ironic, if not even counterproductive, for us to reach out to a government that has brutalized its people over the course of a dozen years now,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters Monday.
Humanitarian partners on the ground can offer assistance in the aftermath of the earthquakes. The regime never showed an inclination to put the welfare, wellbeing, and the interests of its people first.
That leaves rebel-held areas reliant on aid groups including the UN, where millions were already suffering from the effects of extreme poverty and a cholera outbreak when the quake hit.
Meanwhile, “Syrians don’t know where their next meal comes from. When we say meal, it’s not about vegetables, not about meat… Moutzaz Adham, the country director for Syria for Oxfam, said it was about simple bread.