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Guterres appeals for $397 mn aid for quake-hit Syria

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres made an international appeal on Tuesday for $397 million to help the people of earthquake-devasted Syria after the government of President Bashar al-Assad agreed to the UN request to open two more border crossings.

“This is a moment for unity, for common humanity and concerted action.

“The human suffering from this epic natural disaster should not be made even worse by manmade obstacles – access, funding, supplies,” he said.

Guterres said that the UN is “in the final stages” of a similar appeal for Turkey.

India, as well as a few other countries, have been sending disaster relief to the Syrian government.

On Saturday, India sent 23 tonnes of relief supplies on a C-17 aircraft to Syria.

A lot of the quake havoc has taken place in the rebel-controlled areas in north-western Syria abutting Turkiye making it difficult to send aid there.

The Security Council had mandated one border crossing with Turkiye open at Baba al-Hawa and Damascus agreed to open the two other crossings after Marting Griffiths, who heads UN relief operations, met Assad on Monday.

“Aid must get through from all sides to all sides, through all routes without any restrictions,” he said.

He said that a convoy of 11 UN trucks is on its way to the newly opened Bab al-Salam crossing.

Earlier, the UN has been sending aid through the one crossing at Baba al-Hawa.

More than 37,000 people are reported killed in the earthquake that struck both Syria and Turkiye last week.

Information about the toll and the damages are not readily available from the rebel-held areas of Syria.

Unlike Syria, which faces sanctions from the west, and parts of it are in rebel hands, Turkey is open to the world and to aid.

Assad’s ally Russia has opposed opening border crossings from Turkey to the rebel-held areas in Syria and had reluctantly agreed at the Security Council to allow one.

The UN’s direct agreement with Assad permitted the opening of the other two.

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