How are sanctions, blockade affecting humanitarian effort in Syria?

7 Feb 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Sara Salloum 

With thousands dead and thousands of others injured in Syria due to the earthquake, numerous international cargo companies refuse to land in Syria out of fear of US and EU sanctions.

How are sanctions, blockade affecting humanitarian effort in Syria?

A massive earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 Richter ripped through Syria on early Monday, leading to hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries, with the latest tallies showing that more than 1,602 people have been killed in the catastrophe-stricken country, with thousands more injured. 

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called on the United Nations and competent UN organizations, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), among many other humanitarian organizations to provide help for the country in the face of the devastating disaster Syria has been hit with.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad held a meeting with UN representatives and various NGOs in a bid to explain the impact of the unilateral sanctions that are drastically affecting the situation in the country and the humanitarian response to it.

Local sources told Al Mayadeen that numerous international shipping firms have refused to land in Syria out of fear of US and EU sanctions after several countries have asked Syrian airline companies to transport tonnes of aid aboard their civilian airliners, which are not properly equipped for transporting such large amounts of aid.

“The unjust sanctions on Syria directly contributed to an increase in the number of victims as a result of the earthquake because of the inability to secure modern machinery and equipment used in such instances,” the head of the fire department in Latakia, Lieutenant Colonel Mohannad Jaafar, told Al Mayadeen.

“We have fulfilled our duty as per the capabilities available to us. Our entire regiment, with all its firemen, is on high alert. Rescue operations are still ongoing, but we are sadly taking more time because we do not have the proper equipment or a sufficient number of vehicles. Were we to have had these capabilities, we would have been able to save more lives,” Lt. Col. Jaafar added.

Social media users have been sharing a screenshot from live flight trackers showing how Turkey’s airspace is full of air traffic while neighboring Syria to the south does not have any air traffic whatsoever, signaling how the whole world was quick to send aid to Turkey in stark contrast with the situation in Syria.

Some sources have revealed that so far, some 62 aid teams from 50 countries have made it into Turkey while barely any have made it to Syria.

Mohammad, a 40-year-old local from Latakia, told Al Mayadeen how they waited for hours for search and rescue teams to make it to the site. During this time, locals resorted to manually removing any debris they could in a bid to save their families and neighbors.

Mohammad expressed his sadness over the situation in Syria, recalling the vast capabilities that his country had before the war and how it was sending aid and equipment to other disaster-stricken countries around the world when they were hit with such catastrophes, such as India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Iran.

Aleppo has been classified as the most damaged, with more than 46 homes destroyed thus far. The Aleppo municipality said they were facing extreme difficulty when it came to providing proper equipment and manpower due to the amount of damage dealt to the governorate.

“The fierce military battles that took place in Aleppo have directly contributed to the collapse of the buildings after the foundation of these buildings were damaged, and the reconstruction efforts were delayed due to the sanctions on Syria,” the deputy chief of the Aleppo City Council, Ahmed Rahmani, told Al Mayadeen.

Since the early hours of the morning, the Aleppo governorate has called on the people, private sector companies, and contractors, who have vehicles, to support and help remove the rubble, especially in the densely populated neighborhoods. The Engineers Syndicate also called on all of its members to stay in the Syndicate building in order to carry out their national duty and help people in need.

The crisis resulting from the terrorist war on Syria prompted civilians to seek refuge in damaged or somewhat destroyed buildings lacking basic infrastructure and services.

The Secretary-General of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Khaled Arsoussi, made a distress call to international organizations, saying that “Syria urgently needs assistance from international organizations at home and abroad.”

Arsoussi explained that there was a great shortage of equipment for rescue operations, especially when it comes to removing the rubble, with an alarming shortage of medicines and fuel, both of which are required to operate hospitals.

The Syrian Ministry of Health estimated the losses of the health sector in Syria during the decade-long war on the country to have been billions of Syrian pounds, especially in light of the destruction caused by terrorist groups and foreign mercenaries. 

The years of war on Syria have seen the complete destruction of 38 hospitals at the hands of terrorists, as well as the that of 450 vehicles and the killing of more than 700 Syrian doctors.

The Syrian Trust for Development called on those wishing to participate in the national campaign in support of those affected by the disaster to donate cash directly to the following accounts at Byblos Bank:

– Hama Governorate account; account name: Syrian Trust for Development; account number: 2050262888028

– Aleppo Governorate account; account name: Syrian Trust for Development; account number: 2050262888007

– Latakia Governorate account; account name: Syrian Trust for Development; account number: 2050262888008

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