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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

UN is under pressure to provide emergency aid to northwestern Syria.

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The United Nations is under pressure to provide emergency assistance to northwestern Syria. Five days after the earthquake that devastated the region, meaningful help is still needed and the chances of finding survivors under the rubble are all but gone. A convoy of six UN trucks hauled blankets and basic supplies from Turkey to rebel-held areas on Thursday, leaving at least 3,500 dead in Syria and thousands more trapped under rubble. It was arranged before the disaster was buried. Syrian rescue workers and local citizens say they have created conditions never seen at any point in the 12-year-long civil war, and unless the United Nations, the world’s leading aid agency, finds ways to expedite the delivery of aid. The death toll will continue to rise.

That mechanism has come under fresh challenge as the scale of the catastrophe takes shape, with the UN increasingly accused of failing the most vulnerable people on the planet by remaining wedded to narrow and bitterly contested interpretations of international law. The soaring death toll and scale of humanitarian needs have not been seen anywhere in the world since the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011. However, unlike the response in Japan, a lack of aid and political will is likely to drastically worsen conditions in Syria, where the most basic of medical and sanitation needs are absent.

Weeks before the disaster, 16 prominent international lawyers including former judges of the International Court of Justice crossed the border into northwestern Syria, home to 4.1 million people in dire need of assistance even before the earthquake. Reid al-Salah, head of the White Helmets organization, a key first responder in northwestern Syria relief supplies had been planned before the earthquake. Fareed Mahloul, who lives in Idlib governorate, said it was time to make a hasty run to rescue the survivors.

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