WHO chief to Al Mayadeen from Aleppo: Situation is tragic
The WHO chief says the organization would continue to provide Syria with emergency medical services.
Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Saturday arrived in Syria, five days after the country was rocked by powerful earthquakes, Syrian state news agency SANA reported.
On Monday, a series of powerful earthquakes and aftershocks struck Turkey and Syria, resulting in the death of more than 24,000 people in total and destroying thousands of homes. In Syria, the death toll from the earthquake has risen to more than 4,000 people, with more than 7,000 injured, as many people are still under the rubble and rescue work is underway.
Tedros arrived at Aleppo International Airport to tour some hospitals of the city along with the Syrian Health Minister and Aleppo Governor, the report said.
"We have brought with us 35 tonnes of the most needed medicines for the victims of the earthquake," the WHO chief was quoted by SANA as saying.
"We are very happy that we could come with the supplies," he told reporters at Aleppo airport. "This is the first supply we are sending."
Tedros said the WHO would continue to provide emergency medical services and bring in more emergency supplies necessary for "trauma management".
"Tomorrow, there will be another round with more than 30 metric tonnes," he confirmed.
He expressed concern over the after-effects of the earthquake, especially the disruption of services.
"People are exposed to diarrhoeal diseases... and other health problems especially mental health problems," he said.
"We will work together to address the impact of the earthquake, not only the emergency services during the earthquake."
During a visit to inspect the earthquake damages, Tedros said the WHO has been helping Syria for a long time, that is, before and after the earthquake.
On his part, Syrian Health Minister Hassan Al-Ghabash indicated Tedros' visit was "of great importance in many aspects."
"He will first see the reality and what this disaster caused," Al-Ghabash said.
"We hope that Dr. Tedros sees the reality of hospitals and what they lack," the Syrian Minister added, calling on the WHO to help provide equipment the country is in dire need of.
The United Nations highlighted that the disaster may have left up to 5.3 million people homeless in Syria, including 200,000 people in Aleppo alone.
"Many hospitals, almost 50 percent of healthcare facilities are not functioning, and those which are functioning are lacking equipment, lacking staff, lacking medications," according to Ahmad Al Mandhari, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean.
The World Health Organization, which has already released $16 million from its emergency fund, had previously said up to 23 million people could be impacted.
The organization will issue "an appeal for Turkey and Syria for over $40 million," WHO regional emergency director Richard Brennan said.
The UN agency said there was a dire need for immediate trauma care, post-trauma rehabilitative care, essential medicines, prevention and control to prevent disease outbreaks, and access to mental health support.
"These life-saving supplies will be used to treat and care for 100,000 people as well as for 120,000 urgent surgical interventions in both countries," it said.
"WHO's goal is to save lives in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, to minimize its downstream health consequences, including mental health, and to rapidly restore essential health services across all earthquake-affected populations."
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The earthquake is a tragic matter par excellence: Tedros to Al Mayadeen
Tedros told Al Mayadeen that the organization continues to support Syria and will provide health assistance to the country, adding that the purpose of the visit is to secure immediate support for the country and that the WHO will continue to support it in the medium and long term.
"Tragic..." WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus describes to #AlMayadeen from Aleppo the harsh situation that #Syria plunged into following the #earthquake. pic.twitter.com/n4UF712N9e— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) February 11, 2023
The WHO chief considered that what is happening in Syria is a humanitarian situation that has affected everyone, calling on the international community to provide support for those affected.
He also described the earthquake as a tragic matter par excellence, in addition to the war, drought, and the suffering of the Syrians, hoping that the United States and other countries would take more measures to help overcome the repercussions of the earthquake.
WHO chief to #AlMayadeen: "I hope the US and other countries, based on the conditions, take more actions in #Syria."#EarthquakeTurkeySyria pic.twitter.com/DORRf9DVtb— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) February 11, 2023
It is noteworthy that the Public Safety Committee in the Syrian governorates began inspecting buildings to assess their habitability. Al Mayadeen delegate to Aleppo said 100 buildings are threatened with total collapse.
Read more: UN WFP calls on Int'l community to lift 'some' sanctions on Syria
Al-Assad to Al Mayadeen: Western duplicity is not new
Earlier, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad told Al Mayadeen that "an official does not send messages to the people but rather receives them from his people because messages [feedback] coming from people and society are rich."
"The only message that an official can offer is sincere and honest work," Al-Assad indicated.
From Latakia, #Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad told #AlMayadeen that western colonization has gone unchanged for six centuries, stressing the importance of reading and analyzing history correctly.#Syria pic.twitter.com/2svkDXhWIs— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) February 11, 2023
After he and First Lady Asma Al-Assad visited this morning the rescue and relief sites in Jableh in Latakia Governorate, the Syrian President said that "we must know that Western colonization began six centuries ago and has not changed."
Al-Assad and his wife also visited Tishreen University Hospital to check on those injured by the earthquake, thanking the Russian government for its assistance to the Syrian people in this ordeal.
On Friday, the Syrian President and his wife also visited earthquake survivors at the Aleppo University Hospital and met with members of the Operations Room in the city.
UN rapporteurs call for lifting economic restrictions on Syria
On Friday, United Nations experts called on the international community to take immediate action to enable effective emergency response and recovery in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey.
In a statement, the experts called for lifting all economic and financial restrictions caused by the unilateral sanctions on Syria "in this sad period of human suffering."
It noted that the Syrian diaspora is unable to provide financial support through remittances or other means of financing.
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