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Quake Halts UN Cross-Border Aid to Syria, Unclear When Will Resume

Quake Halts UN Cross-Border Aid to Syria, Unclear When Will Resume

Tuesday, 7 February, 2023 - 11:00
Syrian rescuers gather above the rubble of a collapsed building, on February 7, 2023, in the town of Jandaris, in the opposition-held part of Aleppo province, as a search operation continues following a deadly earthquake. (AFP)

The flow of critical UN aid from Türkiye to northwest Syria has temporarily halted due to damage to roads and other logistical issues related to the deadly earthquake that struck the two countries on Monday, a UN spokesperson said.

Even before the quake struck in the early hours of Monday, the United Nations estimated that more than 4 million people in northwest Syria, many displaced by the war and living in camps, depended on cross-border aid.

Those needs have now increased, a top UN aid official said, making the hundreds of trucks worth of food, medical and other assistance that enter Syria via Türkiye each month all the more vital.

"Some roads are broken, some are inaccessible. There are logistical issues that need to be worked through," Madevi Sun-Suon, spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA), told Reuters.

"We don't have a clear picture of when it will resume," she said.

With a confirmed death toll in Syria already topping 1,600, rescue workers from across the frozen front lines of the country's 12-year civil war have said that hundreds more people likely remain under the rubble.

Sun-Suon said aid workers were also struggling with limited access to water and power as well as looking for their own colleagues and loved ones.

Aid already positioned within the northwest will likely be rapidly depleted, aid officials said.

"We have heard there are some supplies in the system for the next 3 - 5 days however our concern is that these will be exhausted rapidly," Kieren Barnes, country director for Mercy Corps Syria, told Reuters.

"We will need to significantly increase resources for northwest Syria and ensure supply lines are clear for us to respond."

Meanwhile, Syria's Red Crescent said it was ready to deliver relief aid to all the country's regions, including opposition-held areas and urged the United Nation, which has long coordinated the aid and relief operations in opposition-held areas, to facilitate that.

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