Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Sunday (February 19) called for an urgent scaling up of earthquake aid to northwest Syria as it delivered a convoy of 14 trucks laden with 1,269 tents and winter kits. “The delivery was arranged outside of the United Nations cross-border humanitarian mechanism,” the MSF said, the news agency AFP reported. “An urgent increase in the volume of supplies is needed to match the scale of the humanitarian crisis,” the MSF said.
The aid group said that supplies currently failed to even match the pre-earthquake volumes.
Citing data from the United Nations (UN), the MSF said that five days after the massive earthquake (on February 6), only 10 trucks had entered rebel-held areas of Syria through the Bab al-Hawa crossing from Turkey. It added that 10 days after the quake, the number of trucks that crossed the border into northwest Syria was lower than the average weekly number for 2022.
Speaking to AFP, Hakim Khaldi, MSF’s head of mission in Syria, said that aid is trickling in negligible amounts for the moment. “We emptied our emergency stocks in three days,” Khaldi added.
In the aftermath of the earthquake in Syria which has killed more than 5,800 people till now, activists and emergency teams in the country’s northwest decried a slow UN response to the quake in rebel-held areas, contrasting it with the aid that has been delivered to government-controlled airports. Before the disaster, almost all of the crucial humanitarian aid for over four million people living in rebel-held areas was being delivered through just one crossing — Bab al-Hawa.
The UN, which has sent over 170 aid trucks to northwest Syria, said on Monday that Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad had agreed to open two more border crossings from Turkey to the country’s northwest to allow entry for relief material.