UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday welcomed the decision by the Syrian president to open two further crossing points on the Turkish border to allow more aid into the country’s stricken northwest.
Only a single crossing point – Bab al-Hawa – has been open to humanitarians since the Feb. 6 earthquakes struck across the border region of southern Türkiye and northwest Syria.
“I welcome the decision today by President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to open the two crossing points of Bab Al-Salam and Al Ra’ee from Türkiye to northwest Syria for an initial period of three months to allow for the timely delivery of humanitarian aid,” Guterres said in a statement.
As hope fades of bringing more survivors out alive from the ruins, in Syria, more than 4,300 deaths had been reported in the northwest on Sunday. Deaths in Türkiye have reportedly now exceeded 31,000.
According to UN chief, it’s clear that “delivering food, health, nutrition, protection, shelter, winter supplies and other life-saving supplies to all the millions of people affected is of the utmost urgency.
“Opening these crossing points – along with facilitating humanitarian access, accelerating visa approvals and easing travel between hubs.’’
Humanitarians working to save lives in Syria and Türkiye made an urgent appeal on Monday for more heavy machinery to remove rubble and debris in towns and villages shattered by last week’s earthquakes, together with medical supplies.
Emergency and search-and-rescue teams have deployed to assess and prioritise urgent needs and to provide life-saving assistance following the devastating earthquake near the Türkiye-Syria border.
At Türkiye’s request, a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team with a total of 50 members has been deployed to the aid hub of Gaziantep and to three other hubs in the affected area to support the coordination of the International Urban Search and Rescue Operations, he added.
A UNDAC liaison team to Türkiye’s Disaster and Emergency Management Ministry, driving the response, has also been established in Ankara. (NAN)