UN continues emergency relief operations in quake-hit areas in Türkiye, Syria

(Xinhua) 11:12, February 11, 2023

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- The world body is continuing to mobilize emergency teams and relief operations in response to the massive earthquake that struck parts of Türkiye and Syria, said a UN spokesman on Friday.

Some 130 international urban search-and-rescue teams are working in the earthquake-impacted area of Türkiye. Another 57 international search-and-rescue teams are on their way, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

At the Turkish government's request, two UN disaster assessment and coordination teams with a total of 50 members have been deployed to Gaziantep and to four hubs in the impacted area to support the coordination of the operations, he said.

A separate UN disaster assessment and coordination team has arrived in Syria and is deploying to Aleppo, Homs and Latakia to support the response there, he said. "We are working to rapidly scale up its assistance, including through cross-border aid operations, as humanitarian needs are overwhelming in the aftermath of the earthquake."

On Friday, a second UN aid convoy crossed the Bab al Hawa crossing from Türkiye into Northwest Syria after the earthquake on Monday. The convoy comprised 14 trucks loaded with shelter and non-food items. Those have been provided by the International Organization for Migration, Dujarric told a daily press briefing.

Humanitarian organizations are supporting immediate response efforts in Syria, including the provision of food and non-food items, portable water, medicines, first aid and trauma care, dignity kits and other protection interventions, he said.

The UN World Food Programme has delivered urgently needed food aid to 115,000 people in Türkiye and Syria in the first four days since the earthquake struck. Distribution is ongoing, he said.

The World Health Organization delivered 72 metric tons of trauma and emergency surgery supplies to both countries to support the ongoing response efforts, he said.

The first charter flight departed to Türkiye on Thursday, carrying 37 metric tons of life-saving supplies, and a second flight is scheduled to deliver 35 metric tons of supplies to Syria on Friday, said the spokesman.

In both Türkiye and Syria, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is delivering reproductive health services to earthquake survivors, especially pregnant women, through existing delivery points in Türkiye, and is also distributing dignity kits, containing basic hygiene items, as well as maternity kits for new mothers and their babies, he said.

The UNFPA has begun distributing 60,000 prepositioned dignity kits to women and girls in need in Northwest Syria. This weekend, the UNFPA will dispatch two trucks with reproductive health supplies, medicines and equipment to meet women and girls' unique needs across the border into Northwest Syria.

The UNFPA reported that a convoy of 13 trucks arrived in Aleppo carrying basic hygiene supplies, blankets, winter clothing and essential items for pregnant and lactating women. Supplies are being distributed at shelters and women and girls' safe spaces in Aleppo and rural Aleppo districts. Six trucks will take essential hygiene items, blankets and supplies for pregnant and lactating women to Latakia and Hama over the weekend, said the spokesman.

For its part, the UN Refugee Agency had a preliminary estimate that as many as 5.3 million people in Syria may have been left homeless by the earthquake. The agency is focusing on providing shelter and relief items, he said. 

(Web editor: Chang Sha, Kou Jie)


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