A’zaz (Syria) 08, February 2023

More than 50 hours after the devastating earthquake that hit South Turkey and North Syria on the morning of the 6th of February, there is still no sign of any international campaign to rescue and aid Syrian civilians severely hit by the catastrophe.

The North West of Syria was already in an extremely precarious situation before the earthquake due to the lack of basic infrastructure and services, as well as a stagnating economic and living conditions, made worse by the extreme weather conditions that hit the area in the last few days.

Our contacts on the ground and within the NGOs working in the rescue effort indicate that despite all these staggering facts, the North West of Syria has not received any meaningful assistance to address the magnitude of the catastrophe, nor it seems that there are any concrete plans for emergency response on the scale needed to deliver the much needed help to save lives of those still trapped under the rubble. The exhausted rescue workers lack the machinery to save them, while we have no means, material or facilities to assist those who survived.

The feedback we are getting from the main NGOs on the ground, including the White Helmets indicate that the UN and its agencies are adamant on dealing and sending assistance through the Syrian regime only. We remind you that this is the regime which continues to bomb civilians in the earthquake-affected areas such as Aleppo, the regime which has persecuted and displaced the majority of Syrians who are now victims of this catastrophe.

The SACD urgently calls on all international donors to ignore any protocols and blackmails that could impede the delivery of urgent aid to Syrians in NW Syria. We have already missed the window of opportunity to save hundreds and maybe thousands of lives under the rubble, but we can still save the lives of those who have survived and keep their dignity in these horrific conditions.

We also call on the UN to stop the frivolous politicization and bureaucracy of humanitarian aid and honour their real mandate of saving and protecting the lives of innocent civilians suffering from a decade of war crimes and displacement, now hit by this unprecedented catastrophe. The illusion of reviving a political process cannot be carried out over the bodies of dead and crushed Syrian civilians, nor is there any meaning to protection of the UN mandate if it does not serve to save Syrian lives in this hour of the most desperate need.

If the absence of response of the international community continues in the coming hours and days, countless innocent Syrians will die an avoidable and unnecessary death due to immoral political calculations and bureaucratic incompetence, and it will cast a shadow on the UN’s history equal to those cast by Srebrenica and Rwanda.