The war in Northern Syria made it impossible to receive aid after the earthquake

Surviving the First Earthquake in Turkey: A State-of-the-Art Report of Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey’s government said search and rescue teams have pulled more than 8,000 people from underneath the rubble of thousands of toppled buildings in the past two days. There were concerns that survivors could die due to worsening weather conditions in the region.

Hundreds of children are in hospitals and shelters in Turkey and Syria without their families and homes after the earthquake, according to a statement by the group.

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 said nobody would be left in the streets because his government had shortfalls in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. Erdogan will also travel to the worst-hit province of Hatay on Wednesday.

My son is inside and I believe he is still alive. His brother dug with his hands to find him,” she told NPR. Rescuers wrapped Sedat’s body in a blanket and brought it to his mother so she could say goodbye.

The Syrian earthquake has not forgotten: The UN aid mission is not the end of the Syrian crisis, neither Israel nor Turkey has stepped in to help

Aid groups consider the first 72 hours after a natural disaster as crucial for rescuing survivors. In neighboring Syria, the government has blamed Western sanctions for hampering relief efforts, but the U.S. says sanctions do not include humanitarian assistance. Regardless, northern Syria lacks the heavy equipment and other infrastructure to come to the aid of the hundreds of thousands displaced by this disaster, and the only U.N.-authorized road from Turkey to that region has been damaged by the quake.

The United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and Russia are some of the countries that have offered assistance to Turkey following the earthquake.

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.

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Syrian victims of the devastating earthquake that hit their country and Turkey on Monday may become hostages of the politics that have divided Syria for over a decade, analysts have warned.

In an interview with CNN, a deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa said that Syrians must not be forgotten. “Often, those who suffer the worst during such disasters are those who were already vulnerable.”

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. The regime, which has a heavy amount of international sanctions because of the suppression of an uprising there in 2011, counts Iran and Russia as its closest allies.

The Syrian regime is shunned by most Western countries. But leader Bashar al-Assad has begun forging ties with former enemies as regional states 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.

“It’s still an active conflict zone, the Syrian crisis is far from over,” said Charles Lister, senior fellow and director of the Syria and Countering Terrorism & Extremism program at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC. The UN aid mission is a complicated one.

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.

The UN hopes to move aid for northern Syria on Thursday, in part due to the rebel-held areas. Alloush said he’s been told to expect six aid trucks by midday, carrying sanitary items and “possibly food.”

“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 Syrians have used the opportunity to call 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. The countries that want to send humanitarian assistance cannot use airplane cargo because of the sanctions.

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.

“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.

“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.

Why Does Turkey Want to Join NATO? An Iranian Force Base in Isfahan: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabian, and Egypt Can Talk About It

Why it matters: The announcement comes less than 10 days after a drone attack on a military plant in Iran’s central city of Isfahan that US media outlets attributed to Israel . It was reported that the new underground base was one of the country’s most crucial air force bases, 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 will be going to elections in May.

Why it matters: The move comes amid an apparent thaw in relations. Bahrain’s crown prince spoke with Qatar’s emir in a phone call last month, in a sign the two Gulf states could move towards repairing relations two years after the Arab boycott was lifted. The conversation came after the Qatari emir and Bahrain’s king attended a small Arab summit hosted by the UAE’s president in Abu Dhabi.

The political and economic boycott of Qataris by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Australia and Egypt ended in January 2021. Since then, there have been no bilateral discussions between the two countries to resolve their differences. The travel and trade links of all the countries were restored in 2021.


Comments on Twitter Users’ Discontent with AlMosahf (the Quran) and the Emergency Response to the Syrian Earthquake

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 addressed Musk, saying: “I don’t think it violated the Twitter rules because its tweets are quoted from the Holy Quran. We demand the lifting of the suspension of this account.”

Some users were happy with the suspension. Some decried the account’s use of incomplete Quranic verses that they said are taken out of context and change the meaning of the text.

The owner of the account appears to run sister accounts in English, French and German which she posts translations of Quranic verse. Another sister account that shows Quranic videos has been campaigning for the original account to be 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.

A convoy of trucks that carried shelter items and non food items cross through the Bab Al Hawa crossing as the UN says it is the only humanitarian aid corridor between Turkey and Syria.

The only access to northern Syria is from the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, and there was no aid for a period of three days.

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.

Doctors without Borders: Bringing humanitarian aid to the area of Idlib during a seismic earthquake and fighting violence in Syria, said Abu Sakhour

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.

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. Hospitals there have been overrun with bodies and staff are waiting for families to identify them to take them away.

But survivors are facing their own challenges each day as water supplies dwindle and disease threatens to spread. Many bakeries in the area collapsed during the earthquake, making it hard for residents to find food.

Sherwan Qasem, spokesperson with Doctors without Borders, said access to the area had been restricted by the cross-border mechanism, agreed by the UN Security Council resolution in 2014 to allow aid to cross four places on the Turkey-Syria border.

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, less than one month before the quake, the UNSC unanimously voted to keep it open, a vote reluctantly backed by China and Russia, whose ambassador said it enabled aid to flow to a Syrian enclave “inundated with terrorists.”

We don’t need politics. We don’t need the game playing that’s going on. Barnes said that the international community needed to focus on the border crossing staying open. We’re past the initial 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 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.

“Those who are still alive under the rubble might die from the cold weather,”  Dr. Mostafa Edo, the Country Director for the US-based NGO MedGlobal said.

“He is using the disaster as a ticket to remove sanctions,” said Omar Abu Layla, executive director of Deir Ezzor 24, a research organization that delivers news from Syria’s Deir al-Zour province. If we want to provide aid to Syria, we can. Time is critical. 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. The regime has never shown any inclination to put the welfare of its people first.

Mohammed Juma slept on the rubble that destroyed his family when he was alive. The town’s 20-year-old is among those who burn their possessions in the frigid nights to heat the place up.

In the northwest of Syria, residents heard the screams of those trapped under the rubble but were powerless to save them, despite having the right machinery and equipment.

NPR saw no international crews of rescuers, trucks loaded with machinery or medical aid or streams of ambulances when it went to this rebel-held enclave of a broken and isolated country. The border crossing into Syria was empty and silent.

A Syrian migrant family moved to Sawran after a violent attack against a neighboring town, killing five children and wounding five others

Mohammed Juma said his wife, Alia, and his two children — 20-month old Ali and 6-month old Hussein — were alive after their home collapsed on top of them. They pulled at the broken concrete for hours until their hands started to bleed, but the effort was futile.

Syria’s civil defense teams are using excavators to recover the dead. On Friday morning in Jinderis, at least 850 bodies had been pulled from the rubble. Zakaria Tabakh, 26, remembers cuddling his son, 2-year-old Abdulhadi, to sleep and laying him in his bed, where he was killed by the falling debris. Tabakh’s spouse died in the bed. He said that many friends were too busy to make it to the burial.

Many of the 4.6 million residents had fled here from other parts of the country, searching for safety from the barrel bombs and airstrikes of the Syrian regime and its ally, Russia.

After years of war, they’ve been left with nothing. Thousands of people live in tents in the olive groves with no access to basic services and the mud is too big for children to play in.

The town of Sawran no longer has water less than an hour’s drive from a border crossing. Nine people, including five children, were killed in the house that was destroyed on one side of the main street. A family of seven was killed across the road. The neighbors said that they moved to Sawran after the Syrian government attacked their community with a nerve agent, killing 89 people.

United Hatzalah and the White Helmets in Turkey: Response to “Surrection of Search and Rescue Operations” and Mental Health Services

The White Helmets told CNN that the death toll was likely to increase, after they ended their search and rescue operations on Friday.

There was an increase in the security situation in Turkey, which led to the suspension of operations on Saturday. Michael Bauer, spokesman for the Austrian Army, said on TWoday that teams had resumed operations.

Israeli search-and-rescue group United Hatzalah said Sunday it was leaving Turkey after six days because of a security threat.

According to the statement, the United Hatzalah received intelligence of a “concrete and immediate threat” on the Israeli delegation and they have to put the security of their personnel first.

We took necessary steps in order to mitigate the threat for the sake of our mission because we knew there was a certain level of risk in sending us to this area of Turkey.

Turkish rescue workers are assisted by a rescue dog handler and Turkish forces provide security in the search areas, according to the Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit.

The team of Palestinians along with local volunteers is also providing mental health services to about 300 children and their families in shelters and hospitals, who are suffering from severe trauma and depression as a result of the earthquake.

The children have experienced difficult times since the earthquake. Psychological support teams of the Palestinian Red Crescent work for their psychological survival after some of them miraculously escaped death.

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