After the September 7 Earthquake, Rescue Workers and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey are Face-to-Face with a Great Disaster
More than 21,000 people have died in Turkey and Syria after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck on Monday, and rescue workers are now racing against time to pull survivors from the rubble of collapsed buildings in freezing winter conditions.
The death toll from the earthquake reached 11,000 as teams were still trying to find survivors, The Associated Press reported. By midday Wednesday, the government in Turkey reported 8,500 deaths from the earthquake. In Syria, the death toll had reached 1,200 in government-held areas, and at least 1,400 in rebel-controlled regions.
In a visit to Kahramanmaras, a city near the epicenter of the quake, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to survivors, saying “we are face to face with a great disaster.” Erodgan admitted there were shortfalls by his government in the immediate aftermath of the quake, but said nobody would be “left in the streets.” Erdogan will also travel to the worst-hit province of Hatay on Wednesday.
AFAD and WHO are delivering emergency medical supplies to earthquake-hit areas in Turkey and Turkey: Bassam al-Sabbagh, a U.N. Emergency Medical Officer, and a former Firefighter
“I know my son is inside and I think he’s still alive. She told NPR that his brother dug with his hands to find him. Rescuers found his body and wrapped it in a blanket for his mother to say goodbye as diggers took away the ruins of the building.
There has been a long-running civil war in northern Syria that complicates the delivery of aid to earthquake-hit areas.
The situation in Syria is very different from Turkey, where 70 countries and 14 international organizations have immediately offered teams of rescuers, donations and aid.
Turkey’s emergency management agency, AFAD, reports it has set up more than 70,000 tents for emergency shelter to the more than 380,000 people who have been temporarily displaced by this disaster.
DUBAI — In a dusty, industrial corner of Dubai, far from the city’s gleaming skyscrapers and marbled buildings, boxes of child-sized body bags are stacked in a massive warehouse. They will be shipped to Syria and Turkey to help earthquake victims.
The World Health Organization is struggling to reach people in need like other aid agencies. The U.N. agency tasked with international public health has already loaded two planes with critical medical supplies and will help some 70, 000 people. There are two planes that are destined for Turkey and Syria.
Color-coded labels help identify which kits are for malaria, cholera, Ebola and polio for countries in need around the world. Green labels are reserved for emergency health kits — those for Istanbul and Damascus.
The trauma and emergency surgery kits used in the response to the earthquake were the ones we used in the WHO’s emergency operations.
Blanchard is a former firefighter from California who worked in the Foreign Service and U.S. Agency for International Development before joining the WHO in Dubai. The organization is trying to reach victims of the earthquake, but their warehouses in Dallas and Houston help deliver aid quickly to countries in need.
“We are ready to work with all who want to provide Syria, from inside Syria, so access from inside Syria is there,” Syria’s representative to the UN, Bassam al-Sabbagh, told a news conference in New York on Monday. Anyone who wants to help Syria can coordinate with the government and we are ready to do so.
“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 World’s Largest Aided Hilfary Hub: The Case of Damascus in the Middle East after the Earthquake
“They are not able to go back to their homes because they haven’t been cleared as being sound”, he says. “They’re literally sleeping and living in the office and trying to do work at the same time.”
The WHO’s warehouses are part of the International Humanitarian City, which is the largest humanitarian hub in the world. The zone is also home to warehouses for the U.N. refugee agency, World Food Program, Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations, UNICEF and others.
Storage facilities, utilities, and flights that bring relief items into affected areas can be covered by the government of D.C. The inventory is bought by the agencies.
Between 120 and 150 countries get $150 million worth of emergency stock and assistance each year. 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. “From a few hours’ flight, you can serve two-thirds of the world’s population living in Southeast Asia, Middle East and Africa.”
World Health Organization supplies for Damascus were still grounded in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday evening due to an engine problem. The situation is changing by the hour and the organization is trying to get flights to the government-controlled airport in Aleppo.
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Analysts warn that people in Syria could become hostages of politics that have divided the country for a decade after Monday’s earthquake.
The people of the northwest are living in appalling conditions due to the Syrians not giving them access to essential services.
Turkey is a NATO member whose international stature has only grown in recent years. Syria, on the other hand, is ruled by a myriad of disparate groups. Its regime, internationally sidelined and heavily sanctioned due to its brutal suppression of an uprising there that started in 2011, counts Iran and Russia as its closest allies – both global pariahs.
The Syrian regime is shunned by most Western countries. Assad has begun forging ties with his former enemies as some of them welcome him back into the fold. Last year, the United Arab Emirates welcomed Assad in Abu Dhabi, and last month Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the pair may soon meet for peace talks.
“The UN cross-border aid operation has been reinstated today. We are relieved that we can reach the people in northwest Syria. Sanjana Quazi, head of OCHA Trkiye said that they hope that this operation continues because it is a humanitarian lifeline.
That hasn’t been received well by activists and observers who fear that the regime could hamper timely aid to thousands of quake victims in rebel-held areas, most of whom are women and children, according to the UN.
There is a political and military standoff in northwest Syria, which is expected to restrict international assistance.
“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. A big challenge as of now is the road issue.
The Syrian regime has also used the opportunity to call for sanctions against it to be lifted. A UN envoy said on Tuesday that planes were refused to land by 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 would feel bad if they reached out to the government that has brutalized its people over the course of 12 years, according to Ned Price.
“It’s a very convenient time for the regime to be making that argument because if sanctions were dropped, the ramifications of the much broader geopolitical situation would be game changing,” said Lister.
The Turkish Prime Minister’s Response to a Saudi Arabian Violation of the Article “On the Role of the Nuclear Force in the Security and Security of the Second Earthquake in Iran”
The announcement comes less than a week after a drone attack on a military plant in Iran, which the US media says was carried out by Israel. IRNA said the new underground base was one of the most important air force bases, housing fighters equipped with long-range cruise missiles.
The Prime Minister of Sweden said that he was ready to resume negotiations over the country’s membership in NATO when Turkey became a member, according to the report.
After Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Sweden and Finland applied for membership in NATO, but Turkey has yet to approve the application, meaning that other members have not yet joined the alliance. 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.
The three countries reached a deal on a way forward last year, but negotiations were halted last month after protests in Sweden of a far-right politician burning a Quran. Turkey goes to elections in May.
Why it matters: The move comes amid an apparent thaw in relations. Two years after the boycott of Gulf states was lifted, the emir of Saudi Arabia spoke to the crown prince ofBahrain in a phone call. The Emirati president hosted a small Arab summit for the emir and king of Saudi Arabia, who traveled to Abu Dhabi.
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.
AlMosahf (The Quran): The UN Humanitarian Access Point and Syria’s Sudden Violation of the Islamic Holy Quran
AlMosahf (The Quran), an account that tweeted snippets from the Islamic holy book, had more than 13 million followers before Twitter took action against it.
One user said that he did not think it violated the rules because it quoted from the Holy Quran. We demand the lifting of the suspension of this account.”
Not all users were 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. The sister account is campaigning to have the original account unblocked.
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.
The only humanitarian aid corridor between Turkey and Syria is Bab al-Hawa crossing, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said a convoy carrying shelter and non food items crossed there on Thursday.
The delivery ended a days-long period where no aid arrived, according to the administrator of the 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.
The quake-erasure does not stop there: Doctors Without Borders in Syria explains how the UN Security Council has voted to keep the border crossing open
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.
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.
While in Gaziantep he is living with his family as he works in Syria, he is in constant contact with his colleagues. 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.
As water supplies dwindle and disease threatens to spread survivors are facing their own challenges. Moutaz Adham, Oxfam’s country director for Syria, said residents are struggling to find food – even bread is hard to come by because so many bakeries collapsed in the quake.
According to Doctors Without Borders, access was restricted due to the cross-border mechanisms agreed to by the UN Security Council.
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. The UN Security Council decided to keep it open just a month before the earthquake, a vote that was reluctantly supported by China and Russia.
We don’t need the politics. We don’t need the game playing that’s going on. We need the international community to focus on keeping the border crossing open. “Because now, we are past the first phase of finding people, and we are heading into the humanitarian phase. We need to provide people with basic shelter, food, and water.”
The number of people who were in need of humanitarian assistance before the earthquake stood at 15.3 million – but that number will now have to be revised, UN Resident Coordinator for Syria, 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 country director for the US-based non profit said that people who are still alive under the rubble may die from the cold weather.
He is using the disaster as a way to get rid of sanctions, said an executive director of a research organization that delivers news from Syria. “If we want to bring aid to Syria, we can. Time is important. We are playing with life and death.”
“We have humanitarian partners on the ground who can provide the type of assistance in the aftermath of these tragic earthquakes. This is a regime… that has never shown any inclination to put the welfare, the wellbeing, the interests of its people first.”
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 is chanting “Allahu akbar”, Arabic for God is great. Volunteers and civil defense groups — themselves earthquake survivors — pull a boy out from the rubble alive in rebel-held northwestern Syria.
A day earlier, another video went viral showing volunteer rescuers in a different part of the rebel-held territory saving a family — two girls, a boy and their father — from under the rubble some 40 hours after the quake.
The world knows of these rescues because of Karam Kellieh, a resident and photojournalist who lives in the opposition-controlled territory. Four million people have been displaced by the Syrian civil war. The area was devastated by bombs and poverty before the earthquake. Politics and the Syrian government made it difficult to get aid.
He said that international aid has not appeared in the 72 hours since the earthquake, and that the small amount of help is coming from individual groups.
“Civilians are trying to help as well as poorly equipped civil defense groups,” she said. Everyone is waiting for international rescue and aid so that they can process what’s happened.
“The situation remains grim in north-west Syria where only five percent of reported sites are being covered by search and rescue,” the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report.
The scale of challenge is amplified by the fact that affected areas in both Turkey andSyria are facing chilly temperatures. Lows this weekend are predicted to be between -2C to 28F, whereas February lows are usually 2.5C.