Monday, 27 March, 2023

Cross-border aid to Syria hampered: UN

Syrian Red Crescent presses EU, US for aid

GENEVA: The sole border crossing used to shuttle life-saving aid from Turkey into conflict-ravaged Syria has been hit by the deadly earthquake that struck the two countries, the UN said Tuesday, reports AFP.

The 7.8-magnitude quake and its aftershocks hit Turkey and Syria on Monday and killed more than 5,000 people.

"The cross-border operation has itself been impacted," Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency OCHA, told reporters in Geneva.

"It is a disaster zone," he said, appealing for politics to be put aside to allow desperately-needed aid to get through.

Disaster agencies said several thousand buildings were flattened across an area plagued by war, insurgency, refugee crises and a recent cholera outbreak.

Concerns have been running particularly high for how aid might reach all those in need in Syria, devastated by more than a decade of civil war.

Humanitarian aid in rebel-held areas usually arrives through Turkey via a cross-border mechanism created in 2014 by a UN Security Council resolution.

But it is contested by Damascus and its ally Moscow, who see it as a violation of Syrian sovereignty.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Red Crescent on Tuesday appealed to Western countries to lift sanctions and provide aid after a powerful earthquake has killed more than 1,600 people across the war-torn country.

After more than a decade of war, President Bashar al-Assad's government remains a pariah in the West, complicating international efforts to assist those affected by the quake.