UN urges no 'politicization' of aid to Syria
The UN Special Envoy for Syria calls on the EU and the US to make sure that there are no impediments to assistance coming to Syria.
The United Nations stressed on Thursday the need to avoid "politicization" of aid to earthquake victims in Syria and urged Washington and Brussels to ensure there were "no impediments".
"Emergency response must not be politicized," Geir Pedersen, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, told reporters in Geneva, saying aid is needed to get to state-controlled areas, as well as those controlled by militants.
Monday's massive earthquake flattened entire sections of major cities in Turkey and Syria, killing more than 17,100 people, injuring thousands more, and leaving many more without shelter in the winter cold.
The situation is of particular concern in Syria, where at least 3,162 people have been killed in the earthquake.
"We need to do everything to make sure that there are no impediments whatsoever to the life-saving support that is needed in Syria," Pedersen underlined.
Damascus has been hit by more than a decade of economic sanctions, and there have been calls for them to be lifted to facilitate the arrival of aid.
Pedersen indicated he had been "discussing the issue, in particular with representatives from the United States and from the European Union."
"They assure me that they will do whatever they can to make sure that there are no impediments to assistance coming to Syria to help in this operation," he added.
"Our immediate asks are two: access and resources. We need life-saving aid. It's desperately needed by civilians, wherever they are, irrespective of borders and boundaries," Pedersen pointed out.
"We need it urgently, through the fastest, most direct and most effective routes," he stressed.
Read more: NYT makes U-turn after saying Syria can't receive aid due to sanctions
US sanctions on Syria hinder aid supply, leave thousands under rubble
Earlier, the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and Red Crescent Societies said US draconian sanctions against Syria raise prices and hamper humanitarian operations.
In an interview for Sputnik, Xavier Castellanos, IFRC Under-Secretary-General for Operations Coordination, said, "Sanctions do have these unintended consequences. And if I summarize, [it] increases the prices on everything that we do, takes more time to deliver the humanitarian services, it sometimes requires private supplies that could again increase the cost and there is this level of fear sometimes to facilitate the existing procedures [with regard to] sanctions."
As the catastrophe unfolds in front of the whole world's eyes in #Syria, one can't help but notice how the #West deliberately chose not to help the catastrophe-stricken country. pic.twitter.com/f5cOYM0JAB— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) February 7, 2023
Castellanos warned that Syria may have more people under rubble than Turkey as a result of the severe earthquakes and that a large number of those are still missing.
"In Syria, my view is that probably we will end up having significantly more people under rubble than in Turkey, but numbers will tell us, there will be a moment in time when we will talk about missing people because there will not be a guarantee what happened with them," he pointed out.
"We see a major challenge in those areas where you don't have rescue search and rescue teams with equipment that is needed and with necessary machinery that is required," he noted.
Castellanos suggested that Turkey and Syria will require a long time to recover from the tremendous wreckage inflicted by the catastrophic earthquakes, and the struggle will be even higher for Syria given the country's already dismal situation.
It will be "even more complicated" for Syria, while Turkey is likely to tackle the crisis "a little bit faster," he noted.
It is worth noting that Syria bears the scars of 12 years of brutal war in addition to US draconian sanctions -- the effects of which are likely to nullify aid efforts most notably in the areas worst struck by the quake.
Read more: How are sanctions, blockade affecting humanitarian effort in Syria?
West provides earthquake relief only to militant-held areas
In the same context, Bouthaina Shaaban, the Syrian Presidency’s Special Advisor, indicated that Western countries are not providing necessary aid to the Syrian government, which is dealing with the fallout of the devastating earthquake, and only send them to areas in Syria that are controlled by militant terrorist groups.
"Unfortunately, the West only cares about areas where the terrorists are - where the White Helmets are - but they do not care about the areas in which most Syrian people live... Most of the money, all of the equipment has been dispatched to Turkey from Europe and from the US. Nothing to Syria from Europe, at all," Shaaban told Sky News.
Read more: Top EU officials demand lifting of sanctions on Syria 'immediately'