UN humanitarian delegation visits quake-affected NW Syria

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – A UN delegation visited areas affected by the Feb. 6 earthquake that struck northwest Syria, following the flow of aid relief into the region.

UN aid continues to reach the earthquake-affected opposition-held northwest Syria through three border crossings: Bab al-Hawa and two newly-opened crossings, Bab al-Salameh and al-Rai.

At dawn on Feb. 6, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Syria and Turkey, reporting more than 44.000 confirmed fatalities and many more people injured or displaced in both countries, the earthquake also caused immense destruction of buildings, trapping thousands under the rubble.

Stéphane Dujarric, a UN spokesperson, said on Wednesday that in the past two weeks, “282 United Nations trucks” laden with aid for earthquake victims have accessed the region through the three border crossings.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, the World Food Program (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO) all are participating in providing relief aid. Their representatives have visited affected areas.

During one of the visits to Idlib, the UN humanitarian delegation met with civil society representatives, and it distributed medical supplies to three hospitals there.

Speaking of the damage inflicted to health facilities across Syria, Dujarric noted that it “has been particularly hard-hit in the earthquakes, with 47 health facilities having been reported as damaged in northwest of Syria alone; twelve health facilities have suspended operations and 18 are only partially functional.”

As many quake-affected people in both countries become homeless, many humanitarian and relief organizations are rushing to provide immediate humanitarian aid, including blankets, sleeping bags, heaters, tents, hygiene materials, food, clothing, beds, portable showers, and toilets as well as transportation assistance and medicine.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced on Feb. 13 that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had agreed to allow United Nations aid deliveries to opposition-held areas in northwest Syria through two additional border crossings with Turkey for a period of three months.

“Opening these crossing points … will allow more aid to go in faster,” Guterres added.

Reporting by Shella Abdulhamid