At a press conference held yesterday, the Emergency Response Committee (ERC) and Abu Muhammad Jolani announced the conclusion of the first phase of the earthquake response in the liberated areas, summarizing the initial stage and explaining the goals of the second stage.
The first stage saw the creation of the ERC, the organization and direction of rescue teams and the facilitation and oversight of various volunteers from the civil, military, and security sectors. The number of those participants from all sectors was around 20,000.
During the initial period over 40 emergency shelter centers were established throughout northern Syria providing secure shelter for those who were displaced due to the earthquake or flooding and at risk, families were evacuated from damaged buildings or dangerous high-risk areas in the perseverance of public safety.
Special centers for the care of orphaned or unattended children were set up to house minors until a time that their families can be located or they’re placed in a more permanent residence. A team for the collection, cataloging, and protection of abandoned property in damaged buildings or rubble was established to ensure their return to their rightful owners.
In the Coming Days
The second phase will look to continue the evacuation and support of at-risk and displaced families while ensuring the complete evacuation of destroyed buildings and the clearing of rubble and debris. Securing alternative housing for those who lost their homes is primary, and will be implemented according to a comprehensive and well-studied plan. A committee from the Ministry of Administration will be created to evaluate the damaged buildings.
Relief and financial aid of over 20 million Turkish Lira (over one million USD) will be distributed to affected families while maintaining the availability and access to essential supplies (such as flour, bread, heating materials, and fuel) to all the people in the liberated areas, in general, and during this crisis. The committee will continue facilitating the support, entry, and protection of all medical and relief teams from the Bab al-Hawa border crossing.
A Sad Reality
The announcement of the second stage also acknowledged the official end of search and rescue operations and a shift to search and recovery which aims to oversee the safe and humane recovery, identification, and burial of remains.
With the sixth day post-earthquake the reality dawns that whoever remains trapped is not likely to have survived nearly a week in sub-zero temperatures without food or water and the death tolls are expected to rise sharply in the coming days.
According to the Jindires Local Council, the deaths in the beleaguered city have reached 756, while the Health Ministry in Idlib, reports the earthquake death toll has increased to 3,100 with 5,081 injuries in northwestern Syria. The devastation, spanning 195 cities and villages, has destroyed over 700 buildings and rendered over 4,300 uninhabitable due to partial destruction.