UN asks for $397 million to send humanitarian aid to Syria

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 14—United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres has requested $397 million from the international community for emergency assistance in Syria over the next three months following the recent earthquakes, Telesur reported.

“A week after the devastating earthquakes, millions of people in the region are struggling to survive, left homeless and living in the cold. We are doing our best to change this, but much more is needed,” Guterres told reporters.

“Immediately after the earthquakes, the United Nations quickly provided $50 million through the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), but the needs are huge,” he said.

“Syria’s efforts bring together the entire UN system and humanitarian partners and will help provide much-needed life-saving assistance to nearly five million Syrians, including housing, medical care, food and protection,” he said.

Guterres said aid “should come from all sides” and that the funding would cover an initial period of three months. “We all know that rescue assistance is not coming at the necessary speed and on the necessary scale,” the UN head admitted.

“I have an urgent message for the international community: the human suffering from this epic natural disaster must not be exacerbated by man-made obstacles: access, funding, supplies.

“Aid must come from all directions, in all directions, along all routes, without restrictions,” he stressed, noting that after assurances from Syria last night, two additional crossings are now open to allow more aid to pass to the northwest, the area most affected by earthquakes.

For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a $43 million appeal Tuesday to support earthquake responses in Syria and Turkey as the total death toll in both countries already exceeds 37,000 and continues to rise.

WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said he expects “that figure to at least double in the coming days as we better assess the magnitude of this crisis and the needs,” Telesur said.

At a press conference on urgent health needs and the response in Turkey following last week’s earthquakes, Kluge stressed that the WHO had carried out the largest deployment of emergency medical teams in the European Region in its 75-year history.

“We are witnessing the largest natural disaster in the WHO European Region in a century. We are still studying its scope. Its true value is not yet known,” he said.

Nearly 195,962 people have been evacuated from the earthquake-hit regions to date, according to AFAD.

Currently, 9,315 foreign employees from 80 countries are working in the disaster area, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Monday. He also said that 100 countries have already offered help and four more countries are expected to send rescue teams.

Among the relief teams that arrived in Turkey is a brigade of Cuban doctors from the Henry Reeve Brigade, which specializes in disaster relief.

Source: Juventud Rebelde


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