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UN humanitarian delegation visits northwest Syria as earthquake response continues

Just Earth News | @justearthnews | 24 Feb 2023, 02:19 am Print

UN humanitarian delegation visits northwest Syria as earthquake response continues

Image: © UNOCHA/Mohanad Zayat

New York: A total of 282 United Nations trucks transporting aid for earthquake victims in northwest Syria have passed through three border crossings with Türkiye over the past two weeks, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said on Wednesday.

Seventeen trucks arrived in the region that day via two crossings – Bab Al-Hawa and Bab Al-Salaam – carrying aid provided by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR; the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Health sector hard hit

A UN humanitarian delegation was in Idlib governorate and visited a displacement camp and a reception centre. Medical supplies were distributed to three hospitals and the team also met with civil society representatives.

“Our colleagues have found that the health sector 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,” Mr. Dujarric said.

Supporting Türkiye

Meanwhile, UN disaster assessment and coordination teams remain active in five provinces in Türkiye: Malatya, Kahramanmaras, Adiyaman, Gaziantep, and Hatay. 

As of Wednesday, 15 international search-and-rescue teams from 13 countries remain in the country, said Mr. Dujarric, citing the Turkish authorities.  

“We are coordinating rapid needs assessments, with shelter, food, health, water, and sanitation remaining our top priority,” he said.  

UN agencies continue to support the Government-led response and deliver critical supplies, including food, tents, blankets, hygiene kits, medical supplies and kitchen items. 

Against ‘politicization’ of aid

Meanwhile, the UN Deputy Special Envoy for Syria, Najat Rochdi, convened the International Syria Support Group Humanitarian Task Force in Geneva on Wednesday.

UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen briefed members on his recent visit to the region in the aftermath of the 6 February earthquake.  

Ms. Rochdi reiterated that there must not be a politicization of response or of aid and stressed that parties with influence must work to ensure that humanitarian assistance can travel through all areas.