UTV

Syrian Red Crescent: Western sanctions hampering earthquake relief work

A Syrian official has called on the United States and the European Union to lift the siege and economic sanctions imposed on Syria that are severely hampering relief work in quake-stricken areas of the country.  

Khaled Hboubati, head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), made the appeal during a press conference on Tuesday, underlining the need for rescue operation equipment following a deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake a day earlier that killed at least 1,700 Syrians.

“We need heavy equipment, ambulances and firefighting vehicles to continue to rescue and remove the rubble, and this entails lifting sanctions on Syria as soon as possible,” Hboubati said.

“The number of victims is likely to rise, and a number of buildings are still at risk of collapsing. The results of the earthquake are disastrous, and our volunteers are ready, but we lack equipment,” he added.

Hboubati further noted that the Syrian government has allocated 126 shelters in Aleppo, 23 in Lattakia, 5 in Hama, 3 in Homs, and 3 in Tartous to help those affected.

He also pointed that many countries have sent aid but the disaster is huge and Syria needs help from everyone following the earthquake.

“We have received calls from Syrian expatriates in a large number of countries, and we will open an account in Syrian banks to receive donations,” Hboubati said.

He also urged donor countries to cooperate to lift the blockade, while calling on the West, particularly the EU, to end its sanctions on the country.  

The United States, at the head of scores of its allies, started conducting airstrikes and raids in Syria in 2014 under the pretext of fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group. The US-led coalition has maintained its presence, despite the fact that it was Syria and its allies, including Iran and Russia, who defeated the Takfiri terrorist outfit in late 2017.

The US government has also imposed sweeping economic sanctions against Syria amid the Arab nation’s uphill battle for reconstruction and recovery.

The restrictive measures have blocked imports of essential goods, affecting the Syrian people’s access to medical equipment, food, heating, gas, and electricity.

Meanwhile, the international medical charity, Doctors Without Border, has announced that medical institutions in Syria are overcrowded and medical staff are dealing with a large number of injured people around the clock.

The United Nations cultural body, UNESCO, has also voiced concern about the Aleppo historic citadel in the northern Syrian city which has been hit by the earthquake.

On Monday, a powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, killing thousands of people and trapping many others.

The quake struck at 04:17 a.m. local time (0117 GMT) at a depth of about 17.9 kilometers (11 miles) and was followed by a 6.7-magnitude aftershock 15 minutes later, according to the US Geological Survey.

Freezing winter weather added to the plight of the thousands left injured or homeless and hampered efforts to find survivors.

The huge earthquake across a swathe of Turkey and northwest Syria brought down whole apartment blocks in Turkish cities and piled more devastation on millions of Syrians displaced by years of war.

The death toll from Monday’s devastating earthquake has crossed the 6,000 mark in the two countries. Disaster management authorities in the two countries fear the death toll will mount further as rescuers try to find survivors in the rubble

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