Senior officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that Syria's humanitarian needs where the highest after a major earthquake killed thousands there and in southern Türkiye.
Adelheid Marschang, WHO Senior Emergency Officer, said Türkiye had a strong capacity to respond to the crisis but that the main unmet needs in the immediate and mid-term would be across the border in Syria, already grappling with a years-long humanitarian crisis due to the civil war and a cholera outbreak.
"This is a crisis on top of multiple crises in the affected region," she said at the organization's board meeting in Geneva," she said.
"All over Syria, the needs are the highest after nearly 12 years of protracted, complex crisis, while humanitarian funding continues to decline."
She said that some 23 million people, including 1.4 million children, were likely to be exposed in both countries following the earthquake and its aftershocks that reduced thousands of buildings to rubble.
WHO said it was dispatching emergency supplies, including trauma and emergency surgical kits, and activating a network of emergency medical teams.
"It's now a race against time," said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "Every minute, every hour that passes, the chances of finding survivors alive diminishes.
He said the WHO was especially concerned about areas of Türkiye and Syria where no information had emerged since Monday's earthquake.
"Damage mapping is one way to understand where we need to focus our attention," he said.