Days after quake, aid trucks reach northwest Syrian enclave read full article at


BAB AL-HAWA, Syria — A small convoy crossed from Turkey into Syria’s rebel-held northwest Thursday with desperately wanted medicines, blankets, tents and U.N. shelter kits, the primary help to succeed in the enclave, three days after the devastating earthquake killed thousands.

Earlier than the convoy of six vans, the one cargo coming throughout the Bab al-Hawa crossing on the Turkey-Syria border was a gradual stream of our bodies of earthquake victims — Syrian refugees who had fled the conflict of their nation and settled in Turkey however perished in Monday’s 7.8 magnitude quake. Tearful survivors carried the stays of their family members wrapped in sheets, whereas others waited on the Syrian aspect to obtain them.

Even earlier than the earthquake wreaked havoc on both sides of the border — the loss of life toll on Thursday surpassed 19,000 — the Syrian enclave of 4.6 million individuals was suffering from excessive distress, with many residing in displacement camps and counting on humanitarian help to outlive.

Underneath an settlement on the U.N. Safety Council, Bab al-Hawa is the one crossing the United Nations is allowed to make use of to ship help from Turkey to the enclave. However the chaos within the aftermath of the quake, broken roads and piles of particles across the crossing prevented the U.N. from delivering help.

Smaller help teams have reportedly introduced in some help throughout different border crossings, however U.N. officers have been reluctant to interrupt protocol.

Cross-border help is politically charged, with the Syrian authorities and high ally Russia pushing for deliveries to the enclave from Damascus, the Syrian capital, reasonably than Turkey. Damascus officers insist they’re able to distribute help in all places in Syria however critics say President Bashar Assad’s authorities has a historical past of blocking or misdirecting help meant for rebel-controlled areas.

“Assad has a long history of politicizing aid, diverting it to his supporters, or selling it at the black market,” stated Karam Shaar, a nonresident scholar on the Center East Institute.

Native rescue crews stated help delays might have value extra lives. Lack of heavy equipment and different tools pressured rescuers to clear the rubble with no matter they’d — together with their naked palms.

“After 50 hours of work, we pulled out a man and little girl alive,” Abada Zikri, a primary responder with the White Helmets, described one such rescue in Harem, a city of about 20,000 individuals in Syria’s Idlib province.

The White Helmets misplaced no less than 4 volunteers within the earthquake, which additionally killed two Syrian workers with the Worldwide Rescue Committee and a number of other a number of individuals from the world who labored with the U.N. on help deliveries.

Whereas Thursday’s convoy was a supply delayed from earlier than the earthquake, the U.N. stated extra convoys with earthquake-response help would comply with.

“Today is just the beginning of it,” Sanjana Quazi, who run’s the Turkey workplace of the United Nations Workplace for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, advised the Related Press on the Turkish aspect of the border.

Some have criticized the U.N. for not taking distinctive measures to ship help after the earthquake. Shaar stated the world group ought to have damaged protocol and used different crossings into Syria or supplied airdrops.

In Damascus, the parliament on Thursday referred to as for the quick lifting of Western-led sanctions on Syria, after the Syrian Pink Crescent earlier this week urged the identical amid gas shortages and inadequate tools.

Monday’s quake additionally broken the Afrin Dam, typically regionally referred to as the Maydanki Dam, in northern Syria. The dam’s concrete cracked open on Thursday, and flooded the northwestern village of Tlool within the Salqin area, within the insurgent enclave, partially submerging the buildings that withstood the quake.

Residents within the space scrambled to gather no matter private belongings they might discover and loaded them in vans. The flooding additional compounded the woes of the displaced Syrians.

The quake’s loss of life toll rose Thursday throughout Syria’s entrance traces, with greater than 1,900 killed within the rebel-held enclave and over 1,200 on the federal government aspect. Assad’s adviser Bouthaina Shaaban advised London’s Sky Information that Syria is keen to obtain help from any nation on the planet, besides Israel, which has provided assist to each Turkey and Syria.

The US and European Union have slammed Damascus’ demand for the lifting of sanctions, saying the measures have an effect on Assad’s authorities and don’t embrace humanitarian help.

However a number of Syrians residing overseas stated in social media posts that on-line fundraising platforms have blocked their efforts to wire cash to Syria as a result of sanctions.

A number of planes from Assad’s key allies Iran and Russia, in addition to a handful of Arab nations — the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Iraq — have airlifted help to Damascus and Aleppo, two main Syrian airports.

Chehayeb reported from Beirut, and Abduelgasim from Cilvegozu, Turkey. Related Press reporters Bassem Mroue in Beirut. Ghaith Alsayed in Idlib, Syria, and Omar Albam in Bab al-Hawa, Syria, contributed to this report.


About Kareem Chehayeb, Fay Abuelgasim and Omar Albam | AP

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