Quake latest: Aid convoys will keep crossing into Syria ‘for as long as needs are there’

A steady flow of UN aid trucks filled with vital humanitarian relief, continues to cross the border from southern Türkiye into northwest Syria to help communities enduring terrible trauma caused by last week’s earthquake disaster – and “will continue every day for as long as the needs are there”, UN aid teams said on Friday.

Since 9 February, 143 trucks have passed through the Bab al-Hawa and Bab al-Salam border crossings, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “The movements continue today, they continue over the weekend and will continue every day for as long as the needs are there,” OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke told journalists in Geneva.

Asked about earthquake damage to roads leading to the aid corridors, the OCHA spokesperson referred to information that “all the roads through all the crossing points are passable and you can drive there…I was myself at Bab al-Hawa a few days ago and the trucks were indeed rolling across”.

Amid massive devastation in both Türkiye and Syria after the double quake strike on 6 February, relief workers continue to stress that the full extent of disaster is still unfolding. Echoing that message, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on Thursday that earthquake damage in Syria threatens “immediate and longer-term food security” in Syria.

In Türkiye, it’s estimated that more than 15 million people have been affected, while in Syria, 8.8 million have been impacted. Humanitarian assistance is urgently needed, as relief teams have seen first-hand in Aleppo, particularly after more than a decade of war.

Cracks in buildings – and people

“I was quite overwhelmed by not only the magnitude of the destruction but the loss that was inflicted on families, you know, during only 60 seconds,” said Fabrizio Carboni, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Regional Director for the Near and Middle East.

“For the first time I saw that there was not only a crack, and cracks in the buildings, but for the first time I really saw that our colleagues, the people you talked to in Syria, they were really wounded, and something is broken.”

Aid blocked from Damascus

Speaking to journalists in Geneva, the ICRC official also issued a strong appeal for crossline aid deliveries from Damascus to be allowed through to the largely opposition-held northwest: “We tried to get into Idlib through crossline and so far we’ve been blocked, unfortunately. So, I don’t have first-hand information on the roads and access but we’re ready to get in but we are so far blocked to do crossline, hoping that this could change soon.”

Hot meals, family rations

As part of the UN-wide response, the World Food Programme (WFP) reported on Thursday that it has stepped up its emergency response to nearly half a million quake-affected people in Türkiye and Syria, providing hot meals, emergency ready-to-eat food packages and family food rations.

“Families tell me they left everything behind when the earthquake hit, running for their lives. WFP’s food is a lifeline for them; while they think about their next steps in the destruction left by the earthquake, their children can eat,” said Corinne Fleischer, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa and East Europe.

She added: “We have scaled up rapidly and requests for more food are coming every day from municipalities and communities. We are there for them, but WFP can’t do it alone. We urgently appeal for funding to help us reach those in need.”

Source: United Nations