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  • A handout photo made available by Syrian Presidential Office shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (C) visiting the site struck by earthquake in Aleppo, Syria, 10 February 2023.

    A handout photo made available by Syrian Presidential Office shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (C) visiting the site struck by earthquake in Aleppo, Syria, 10 February 2023. | Photo: SYRIAN PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE

Published 10 February 2023

Due to the recent earthquake that struck the Middle East, War ravaged Syria needs a serious financial and logistical assistance from the world. The West should remove sanctions on Syria.

Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria back in 2011, the country is the experiencing worst humanitarian catastrophe since World War II. According to aid relief agencies, Some 6.9 million Syrians are internally displaced, and another 5.6 million are refugees abroad as a result of the ongoing Civil War in the country. According to UNHR, 14.6 million. people in need of humanitarian and protection assistance in Syria with approximately 6.7 million internally displaced. As a result of the civil war, the collective has imposed the worst sanctions on Syria depriving innocent Syrians of basic needs such as food, medicine, and logistics.

 The Easing of the US Sanctions is Misleading: Syria

Two days ago the region suffered from another natural disaster, that exacerbated the already worsened conditions in the country. On February 6, earthquakes of magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 struck the Anatolian plateau causing major destructions across Northwestern parts of Syria and southeastern parts of Turkey.

The region is in chaos and complete catastrophe as a result of a powerful earthquake, where the human loss reached beyond comprehension. As per reports, in Turkey, around ten cities were heavily affected by the earthquake including the major cities such as Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Adiyman, Diyarbakir, and Malataya. Approximately 8000 residential and commercial buildings have collapsed in these cities, even President Raccep Tayyib Erdogan called it “ the worst disaster in the last 84 years”.

According to reports, the death toll in affected cities in Turkey is increasing as the rescue operation continues, currently, at least 5894 deaths and thousands of injured were announced by the government. Aid groups consider the first 72 hours after a natural disaster as crucial for rescuing survivors.

So far the rescue operations in the affected cities are happening at a faster pace as the rescuers and aid workers from more than 45 countries have already arrived yesterday. In response to the ongoing catastrophe, Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan announced three months nationwide emergency. However, despite major relief efforts, the death toll is expected to rise, and the World Health Organization has already warned about the aftermath. In a recent press release citing the earthquake-related catastrophe, WHO warned;

“The death toll from a strong earthquake in south-eastern Turkey, near Syria's border, could rise eight-fold”

Similarly, the condition in Northwest Syria, which are mostly opposition-controlled areas, the situation is even worse. For instance, Idlib, which is the largest city in Northwest Syria in terms of population was hit hard by the Feb 6, Earthquake. According to the so-called Syrian Civil Defense often known as the White Helmets, in Idlib alone, 16,699 deaths were reported and thousands are beneath the rubble. Overall as per reports, the earthquake-related deaths in all across Syria at least 2,530 people were killed and hundreds injured. According to the Syrian Health Ministry said at least 1,250 people were killed and 2,045 others injured in the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, and Tartus.

Syria has been under Western sanctions since 2011, which has caused shortages of basic humanitarian needs in both regime and opposition-held areas. According to UNICEF, approximately, 90% of Syrians are living below the poverty line, most are unable to make ends meet or bring food to the table. For years, Turkey has been the major source of aid assistance and relief operations in war-torn Syria, however, the recent earthquake has created a humanitarian crisis in Turkey too.

Now, it seems that the humanitarian situation in Syria is going to be much worse due to a lack of international assistance and western imposed sanction. The time has arrived when the West should put aside its political differences and should boost humanitarian assistance for Syria by lifting inhumane sanctions. As per reports, unlike the foreign assistance response for Turkey, Syria has only received assistance from Iran and Russia both in terms of aid, finance, and logistics. The rest of the world still seems silent over the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria, the country is badly affected by the recent earthquake and the major Syrian cities such as Idlib, Lattakia, Tortos, and Aleppo are under rubble.

As per reports from the regime and opposition-held areas, around 2000 buildings have collapsed as a result of the earthquake. And due to the lack of logistics and international assistance due to the embargo, the humanitarian relief operations in Syria are facing severe challenges to save lives. Like Turkey, Syria also deserves international assistance, and attention because humanity is beyond political differences, ideological hatred, geopolitical interests, and sanctions-related gambling. It is time, the West should put aside its political differences with Syria and lend a hand for humanitarian assistance by lifting sanctions.

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