The death toll from Monday’s devastating 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake that has severely damaged parts of Turkey and Northern Syria has surpassed 21,000. The World Health Organization (WHO) fears the number could increase eightfold.
Several countries across the globe are dispatching rescue workers and delivering emergency aid to the affected cities in Turkey and Syria. However, critics were quick to point out how most countries barely acknowledged, let alone send, sufficient aid to war torn Syria.
Syria is currently under heavy sanctions imposed by the US which is directly affecting the delivery of aid and donations to the areas damaged by the earthquake.
A flight tracker showed icons of aircrafts surrounding Turkey while the Syrian airspace was clear of flights descending into the country.
Greece, Britain, Poland, Japan and Qatar sent their envoys and flights of humanitarian aid to Turkey, but seemingly chose to ignore Syria.
The UN, Ukraine and Canada promised to assist Syria but have not delivered on anything yet.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), a US-based advocacy group, called for the “immediate” lifting of US sanctions to facilitate the delivery of aid to Syria. “We commend and are thankful to existing organizations on the ground providing immediate humanitarian aid and relief to those in Syria, Turkey, and across the region. The reality is more aid and relief is needed, and time is of the essence,” ADC executive director Abed Ayoub said in a statement.
Neighboring and fellow-suppressed also by sanctions, Iran was the first to send an aid plane that landed in Damascus on Monday February 6, 2023, carrying 45 tons of medical and relief food aid, according to Al Mayadeen.
According to the Director of Civil Aviation, the first aid plane from Iran arrived at Damascus airport at around 5 am, while two Russian planes were due to arrive at Latakia airport around the same time.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, ordered the dispatch of urgent humanitarian aid worth a whopping Dh50 million to the Syrian people in particular, the Khaleej times reported. The aid will come in the form of ration parcels and is set to be delivered to the most affected groups in ‘’brotherly Syria.’’
Al- Mayadeen further reported that an aid plane had departed from Baghdad to Syria as the country’s prime Minister said “We declare our readiness to provide aid and assistance in any field requested by the brotherly government of Syria,” he added.
Countries like Lebanon, China, Algeria, India, Iran, UAE, Russia and Iraq have expressed their profound sadness and have even extended a helping hand towards Syria with some of these countries simultaneously responding to the emergency appeal from Turkey.
The Lebanese Red Cross team and members of the Lebanese Army and Civil defense to Syria have also left to assist their neighbor Syrian neighbors with relief efforts.
The US sanctions imposed over Syria have further hindered the deliverance of sufficient aid to Syria. Such sanctions prevent the government-held territory from receiving aid.
According to the Cradle Media, in a 2020 report, released by the humanitarian information portal Relief Web, affiliated with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), stated, “The sanctions that have been placed on Syria by the EU (including the UK) and the USA have caused dire humanitarian consequences for Syrian citizens in government-controlled areas (which is 70% of the country) who are seeking to rebuild their lives.”
With the 7.8 Magnitude earthquake that only added to the severity of the dire situation in Syria, the Syrian people continue to suffer. The report further added that “of the huge amounts of humanitarian aid that Western governments are sending to Syria, the vast majority reaches either refugees who have fled the country, or only those areas of Syria occupied by militant groups opposed to the Syrian government. Most Syrian people are therefore deliberately left unsupported.”
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