Earthquake News

Dire Living Conditions Persist in Syria Months After Earthquake

Aid officials who recently visited Syria's rebel-held northwest have reported that living conditions are still dire, three months after a massive earthquake hit the region. The United Nations estimates that over 6,000 people were killed in Syria alone, and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. The situation is particularly concerning in Idlib, where some 4 million people reside, many of whom were previously displaced during the country's 12-year civil war. David Carden, the U.N.’s Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria crisis, has said that progress has been made since the early days, but more needs to be done, citing funding as a significant challenge.

The humanitarian response plan for Syria, which was in place before the earthquake and needs billions of dollars in support, is only 7% funded while a flash appeal has been fully funded and $400 million has been raised. The two border crossings between Turkey and Syria, which were opened following the earthquake for three months to let help through, should be kept open, according to Carden.

More than 4,500 people died in northwest Syria as a result of the earthquake in February, and more than 855,000 people had their homes damaged or destroyed. Patrick Mutai is a U.N. shelter coordinator. According to a refugee agency, the earthquake made communities even more vulnerable. Idris Elrasheed, who oversees northwest Syria operations from the World Health Organization's office in Gaziantep, Turkey, has stated that more medical equipment will be brought to Syria, reducing the need for critically ill patients to travel to Turkey. The immediate plan is to help the most affected with "dignified shelters, medium-term kind of shelters that provide better privacy, security as well as structural stability." For this report, Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed.

Omar Albam Salqin, The Associated Press, May 3, 2023.

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