The Syrian civil war started in March 2011. The authoritarian government of Bashar al-Assad was revolted by pro-democratic groups who are mostly headquartered in North Syria. The government tried to shut down the revolution by inducing military, law enforcement, and paramilitary forces. The war has displaced millions and has paralyzed the country.
The war weakened the infrastructure and exhausted the resources of the country, now with the catastrophic natural disaster, the aid to the affected people is not only late but also difficult. The earthquake hit the northern-west part of Syria on 6th February 2023. The magnitude was estimated at 7.8. The casualties were recorded at 3000.
Due to the rebel groups’ occupation in northern Syria, there is no official open entry point through which the neighboring countries can send aid. The only way to support is through Bab al-Hawa, which requires the group's permission.
Even if the aid makes its way across the border, moving it around the country is not easy. The resource is limited and the rescuers have reported having issues with the operations. White helmets are largely responsible for rescue operations. The government-held areas do not allow the aid to reach the millions of displaced people. 4.1 million out of 4.5 million depend on humanitarian aid.
The affected people are living under extreme winter conditions in open tents with little to no supplies. There also has been a cholera outbreak in the rebel-held areas.
The United Nations (UN), the US, and the UK have imposed sanctions on the government but the UN’s first relief convoy carrying blankets and supplies reached Bab -al Hawa on Thursday, February 9th, 2023. The UN is also finding ways to avoid interactions and mounting pressure on the government to provide shelter for the millions.
Syria’s representative of the UN said during a news conference in New York on Monday that if anyone wants to send aid, they should coordinate with the government. But many activists fear and argue that only the areas where the regime is influential will receive the aid as has happened in the past.
Russia has been the biggest ally and major help for Syria during such a crisis since Russia is in favor of the government’s regime.
UN’s appointed human rights expert called out for the removal of sanctions by the US and UK against Syria because the citizens have suffered a great deal of destruction and trauma. The US stance remains unchanged as they believe it will be counterproductive to reach a government that has been brutal to its people.
It has been six days since the disaster struck Turkey and Syria. On 10th February, UNSC declared that a committee will sit next week to discuss how to deliver aid to the areas affected by the earthquake through Turkish borders.
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