(CTN NEWS) – Hours after the death toll surpassed 21,000, the UN’s top humanitarian official announced early on Friday that he was en route to Turkey and Syria to see areas affected by a strong earthquake earlier in the week.
According to U.N. secretary general António Guterres, the representative, Martin Griffiths, will travel to Gaziantep in Turkey, Aleppo and Damascus in Syria, and both cities on the same weekend.
According to Mr. Guterres, additional assistance is on the way, but much more is still required.
According to government statistics, the death toll from Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake surpassed that of the 1999 earthquake, which occurred approximately 60 miles from Istanbul and claimed about 17,000 lives.
The earthquake on Monday has now been the deadliest in Turkey since 1939 and among the deadliest worldwide.
Turkey declared a three-month emergency in the ten affected provinces on Thursday. On the ground, there is chaos in many of the hardest-hit districts.
Traffic has been bumper to bumper, the air is bitter from people’s campfire smoke as they attempt to remain warm, and ambulances and trucks providing relief are arriving ceaselessly in Antakya, whose ancient old town has completely crumbled.
Thousands of people have taken refuge in white tents beneath a soccer stadium.
The region is in danger of more earthquakes while the humanitarian crisis persists. This week, Turkey has seen dozens of earthquakes, some of which occurred on Friday.
Experts warn that large aftershocks, like those that occurred shortly after the original quake, might endanger the structural integrity of partially collapsed buildings in the earthquake zone.
Extreme weather, power outages, a lack of gasoline for trucks, and other limitations of necessary supplies have all put a strain on the attempt to bring help to millions of people.
According to relief agencies, it’s critical to discover survivors in the first 72 hours following a natural disaster.
According to Yasushi Nakajima, a disaster risk management specialist at Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo Hospital in Japan, after that window has passed, as it has done in Turkey and Syria, the medical load often shifts from disaster sites to medical institutions.
On the other hand, Dr. Nakajima stated that medical facilities reacting to the catastrophe since it started might experience significant issues with staff exhaustion, supply shortages, and supply disruptions, including fuel and water.
“As if sand were sliding from their hands,” he continued, “Lives that could have been preserved under a proper medical system are being lost.”
Syria, where millions of people have been displaced by a protracted civil war, presents unique humanitarian difficulties in receiving relief.
So far, there have been a few developments.
The first big relief delivery to the area since the earthquake occurred on Thursday when six trucks carrying non-food supplies and shelter supplies entered the opposition-held part of northwest Syria.
According to the International Organization for Migration, the commodities in convoy could provide for at least 5,000 people.
However, Syria has gotten significantly less relief than Turkey since the earthquake, partly because the sole border crossing used on Thursday, Bab al-Hawa, allows aid from the UN to reach the northwest portion of Syria controlled by the opposition.
According to Mr. Guterres, access is the biggest barrier to help to reach Syria.
According to Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesperson for the UN, the organization will ask the Security Council for permission to provide humanitarian supplies to Syria.
And said it was also working with the Syrian government to increase relief deliveries to northwest opposition-held territories.
The Syrian government claims that the sanctions imposed by the United States on the nation have made the quake-related humanitarian crisis worse. Humanitarian aid is unaffected by these sanctions.
The U.S. State Department reiterated its opposition to lifting sanctions against Syria on Thursday, claiming that the position has not interfered with humanitarian aid deliveries.
It reiterated a demand that President Bashar al-autocratic Assad’s regime made more border crossings available for aid distribution.
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