While International Community Stumbles, Syrians Step Up

A week has passed since the devastating earthquake that struck northern Syria and southern Turkey. While some rescues of those trapped for nearly eight days have miraculously occurred, the majority of teams in both countries are now resigned to finding and removing the bodies of the dead.

According to the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG) Minister of Health, Dr. Hussein Bazar, 1,254 bodies of Syrians who were recovered in Turkey after the earthquake have entered Syria through the Bab al-Hawa crossing and the number of the dead continues to increase daily.

The Ministry of Health states that the number of earthquake fatalities within the liberated Syrian regions has risen to more than 3,160 people with over 5,100 injured women, children and men. Rescue teams are still searching for families trapped under the rubble in the countryside of Idlib and Aleppo and the number of dead is expected to rise.

Syrians Step Up

It is noteworthy that despite their wealth and resources, in the aftermath of the massive earthquake last week, the UN and other agencies were slow to act. However, the Syrians, many of whom are IDPs and victims of a 12-year war, were quick to collect donations from all the villages, cities and towns of the liberated area and provide relief to their afflicted brothers and sisters.

In the face of the failure of the international community to adequately provide swift and substantial aid to the Syrian victims Syrians from across the north have sent aid to the stricken regions, including from PKK-administered areas.

The clans and Arab tribes of Raqqa and Deir Ezzor sent about 75 trucks loaded with aid relief, medical and food materials. The PKK-run Autonomous Administration said on its Facebook page that “about 52 aid trucks for the victims of the earthquake crossed from the Umm Jalud crossing in Manbij, carrying relief materials collected by the people of Manbij and the tribes of northeastern Syria.” Syrian Interim Government said in a statement that it “will respond to the appeal of the people and clans in the eastern regions of Syria, and receive aid trucks provided by them.”

The Director of the SSG Religious Endowment Directorate, toured warehouses containing locally collected donations, the visit included reviewing the plan of those in charge of distributing donations, and the mechanism for delivering them to all affected families, whether in the recently established shelters, or in other places. Most of the aid was collected in mosques, and included household mattresses, various foodstuffs, some heating materials, and other relief supplies.

The Minister of Development and Humanitarian Affairs, Mohammed al-Bashir said, “Today, we’ve begun to transfer families from emergency shelter centers (ESC) to organized housing, as we will transfer over 200 families, field teams in the ministry have begun to carefully check the status of families affected by the earthquake in cities, as well as families at the ESC, in order to facilitate the devilry of aid to them.

A Qatari aid convoy at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey prepared to enter northwestern Syria today and the World Food Program (WFP) released a statement saying, “we demand the opening of all border crossings into northwestern Syria,” while protesters gathered at Bab al-Hawa, refused to accept any aid entered from Assad’s areas.


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