After two overpowering earthquakes, followed by a number of aftershocks, struck the south-eastern area of Türkiye near the border with the Syrian Arab Republic, on February 6th, reports of significant destruction on both sides of the border have raised attention and mobilized international aid, in an attempt to support millions who have seen their lives change from night to day.
At the time of writing, more than fifty-one thousand lives have been lost and more than five million people may need shelter, in Syria alone. A country which has been suffering from twelve long years of war, with a single-entry point for humanitarian convoys to northwest Syria – the epicentre of a civil war, is now facing shortages of supplies, having to resort to on-site emergency stocks.
The northwest, devastated since 2011 by a conflict driven by political grievances, as well as corruption, in large part controlled by rebel groups, have seen international aid efforts to the affected communities desperately in need, hampered. The international aid architecture needs drastic reform to better serve populations in states where governance has collapsed.
Aiding the people of Türkiye and Syria must be a moral imperative, with immediate steps taken to save lives that should include rebuilding communities, and reconstructing destroyed areas, with the help of upgraded efforts by multilateral development institutions.
Inaction by the international community in Syrian territory can further destabilize the region, deepening the humanitarian crisis in place, as well as raising the number of refugees, while increasing the risk of conflict and the spread of extremism.
The World Health Organization (WHO), has been “urging all parties – government and civil society alike – to work together to ensure cross-border delivery of humanitarian help”. WHO has set a number of measures into place, including a 16-million dollars Contingency Fund for Emergencies, to help the people in need. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has sent convoys to the affected territories filled with tents and winter kits, as well as medical and non-medical equipment. However, “MSF calls for the immediate scale up of assistance for the people affected by the earthquakes in northwest Syria, in order to address the new humanitarian needs adding to those already prevailing in the area”. Various countries mobilized support for Syria and Türkiye. We appreciate their engagement, but the support needs to be continued to reach all.
UNITE is, therefore, calling for a reinforced response mechanism to help those deeply affected, in an effort to remind the international community of this neglected and deeply deprived region, and by keeping in mind those affected by conditions that they alone cannot change. Even though the acute rescue phase is over, we cannot abandon the people in the areas affected by the earthquake. We must remain engaged by continuing to provide further targeted assistance to overcome this tremendous humanitarian challenge in both countries.
UNITE Global Board
Hon. Ricardo Baptista Leite, President & Founder of UNITE
Hon. Akua Dansua, Chapter Chair for Western & Central Africa
Hon. Andrew Ullmann, Chapter Chair for Western & Central Europe
Hon. Amar Patnaik, Chapter Chair for India
Hon. Esther Passaris, Chapter Chair for Eastern & Southern Africa
Hon. Gisela Scaglia, Chapter Chair for Latin America & The Caribbean
Hon. Ibtissame Azzaoui, Chapter Chair for Middle East & North Africa
Hon. Mariam Jashi, Chapter Chair for Eastern Europe & Central Asia
Hon. Pia S. Cayetano, Chapter Chair for Asia & Pacific