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Syria after the earthquake: "It's frustrating"


The relief supplies are far from sufficient: tents, food and water are lacking in the northwest of the civil war country. Oliver Hochedez from Malteser International explains why it is so difficult to help people.

AreaVideo Transcript: Syria after the earthquake pop up

The aid is arriving, but it is far from enough: after the devastating earthquake, the need for relief supplies in Syria is huge.

The situation is still confusing almost two weeks after the disaster.

The affected area in the northwest of the country is divided: some areas are controlled by Damascus.

Other territories are under the control of anti-government and predominantly Islamist militias.

A difficult situation, also for helpers and rescue workers.

We spoke to Oliver Hochedez in Kilis, in the Turkish-Syrian border area.

He is the head of the emergency aid department at Malteser International and organizes, among other things, relief supplies for Syria.

Oliver Hochedez, Malteser International

»In addition, there is the fact that Syria has been a country of civil war for many, many years and children of ten have never experienced anything but war.

And now there's the earthquake.

And a very harsh winter with these sub-zero temperatures, but also a much worse supply of drinking water and food.

Of course, under the circumstances of, let's say, very limited access, all of this is a completely different challenge to get humanitarian aid there.

In contrast to Turkey, where there were around 90 of these search and rescue teams from all over the world and many aid organizations can also be active, the picture in Syria is unfortunately different.«

According to the United Nations, more than 6,000 people have died in north-west Syria.

With their bare hands, the survivors are still searching for missing persons, memorabilia and valuables.

In the meantime, there is little hope of being able to save those who have been buried.

Mazen Al Fahed, earthquake victim

“As you can see, people work day and night.

We must find shelter, but we don't know where.

We wait for God to give us relief.

It's winter, here are women and children, we have to provide warmth, safety, food and water, that's the minimum until things are better organized."

Sabri Al Salameh, earthquake victim

»It is clear what we need: a tent, food and water.

We received food aid and many good people helped us.

All we need now is more food and water, that's all, thank God we've found shelter in this tent now."

Those who suffer are primarily those who already had little beforehand.

According to the EU Commission, more than four million people in north-west Syria are dependent on humanitarian aid.

Due to the poor hygienic conditions, epidemics are now threatening.

Oliver Hochedez, Malteser International

»Malteser International itself has no on-site staff.

Syrian organizations and doctors and nurses do that.

We are very active in the health sector.

That means we have hospitals and health stations.

We also provide the tent camps with medical supplies.

And that's what we're concentrating on now, of course.

Of course it's always frustrating.

As a humanitarian worker, you would like to be able to do everything immediately and get the aid there immediately.

We are currently unable to provide the help that would be needed there.

You just have to say it like that.

We cannot get the aid there like we are doing in Turkey.«

A few days ago, the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad opened two border crossings to Turkey so that aid supplies could reach the people of northern Syria this way.

Aid from areas controlled by Assad's regime has not yet arrived there.

Government officials are said to have even warned local dignitaries not to send money to the Northwest to help quake victims.

Oliver Hochedez, Malteser International

“Everything is needed in Syria: tents, blankets, heaters.

Medical care must be maintained.

Even in the times before the earthquake, we were always reaching our limits.

We didn't agree with that.

I don't mean to say that, but it's difficult.

And yet, under these circumstances, you have to try to set up and coordinate the aid in such a way that it gets there.

That it would also be desirable if we had other options.

That goes without saying."

According to the United Nations, around nine million people are affected by the effects of the severe earthquake in Syria alone.

Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2023-02-18

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