The lack of humanitarian support has become a significant concern for those in need. In Bab al-Hawa, Syria, the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake has left many people trapped, and rescuers are expressing their frustration over the absence of necessary international aid. Despite the presence of rescue teams and volunteers from various countries in Turkey, medical volunteer Obaida Rannoush decried the global community’s inaction towards his homeland.
Rannoush, speaking from the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, implored the global community, Arab nations, and the United Nations for immediate support. Hundreds of thousands of people remain trapped beneath the rubble despite the passage of over sixty hours since the earthquake struck the country. The lack of adequate resources has made it impossible for rescue teams to help those in need. “We desperately require heavy machinery, medical and humanitarian aid,” Rannoush stressed.
In the wake of the deadly earthquake that struck northwest Syria & resulted in thousands of deaths, rescuers are expressing disappointment over the lack of international humanitarian aid desperately needed to assist the hundreds of people still trapped.#Syria #SyriaEarthquake pic.twitter.com/Vp8yRQsXnA
— News Live (@NewsLiveFree) February 9, 2023
Rannoush highlighted that no humanitarian convoys have entered through the border so far. “We have not received any assistance,” he stated. He and his colleagues are stationed at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, making a plea for aid to save the lives of those trapped in the rubble potentially. In response to the crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it would send teams and medical supplies via three flights to Turkey and Syria on Wednesday. According to Dr. Iman Shankiti, the representative for Syria at the World Health Organization, the health requirements following the earthquake are enormous.
In the aftermath of the earthquake in northwest Syria, the slow reaction from the international community has become a question of survival for hundreds of individuals still trapped in the debris of fallen buildings. The need for prompt assistance is imperative for their safety and well-being. The inaction of the international community has led to a protest in the form of a sit-in by Syrian journalists at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing.
According to Mazen Alloush, responsible for media relations at the crossing, millions of Syrians have been impacted by the earthquake and its aftershocks. Alloush also mentioned that the crossing had been closed since the earthquake occurred. According to Madevi Sun-Suon, the spokesperson for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the delivery of aid from Turkey to northwest Syria has been temporarily suspended due to the impact of the earthquake. Sun-Suon explained that certain roads have been damaged or become inaccessible, creating logistical challenges that must be addressed.
Just Funerals, No Aid from International Community
However, Alloush disputed these assertions and stated that the roads are accessible. According to him, after every 30 minutes or so, vehicles carrying the remains of Syrians who passed away in the earthquake cross the border from Turkey into Syria. This raises the question of how funeral convoys can pass through the roads, yet aid cannot.
According to Alloush, the U.N. aid is kept in the Turkish city of Reyhanli, located just a kilometer from the Bab al-Hawa border crossing. So far, 300 Syrian earthquake victims have been brought across the border for funerals. However, Alloush also revealed that since the earthquake struck, Turkey has ceased accepting medical patients from Syria and prevented volunteer teams from entering the country through the border.
According to Abdul Razzak Kentar, Programs Manager of the Syria Civil Defence, aid has yet to be received by North Syria via the designated aid corridors. The only exception was a team of 20 Egyptians, doctors without medical equipment, who entered through the Bab al-Hawa crossing. Despite official announcements that the Bab al-Hawa, Jarabulus, and Bab al-Salamah crossings have been opened, the Civil Defence has yet to receive any assistance, either international or non-international.
Hope fades in Turkey
As rescue teams in Turkey and Syria work to search for survivors in the rubble left by the world’s deadliest earthquake in over a decade, the chances of finding anyone alive are rapidly diminishing. With the confirmed death toll reaching 12,000, the stretched rescue teams face a daunting task as they comb through the wreckage of thousands of collapsed buildings. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey recently visited the area of Hatay province, which was particularly hard hit by the earthquake, with over 3,300 deaths reported and entire communities devastated.
The affected area’s residents have expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s response to the disaster, citing a shortage of equipment, expertise, and support for the rescue efforts. They have reported hearing cries for help from those trapped, yet they feel the government has failed to respond to their pleas for help adequately. Sabiha Alinak, speaking from near a collapsed building in the city of Malatya where her young relatives were trapped, stated, “Where is the state? Where have they been for two days? We are begging them. Let us do it; we can get them out.”
President Erdogan acknowledged the limitations in response to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred on Monday, attributing them to the magnitude of the disaster and the challenging winter weather conditions. The earthquake also caused significant damage to the runway at Hatay’s airport. Despite these challenges, Erdogan stated that the government is committed to ensuring that all citizens receive the necessary care and support and that it is unrealistic to be fully prepared for such a catastrophic event. This sentiment highlights the frustration and desperation felt by those affected by the disaster who are seeking assistance from the government.