“In Idlib, it’s a terrible humanitarian disaster”, after the earthquake

The balance sheet continues to grow. The earthquake which hit, Monday, February 6 at dawn, the south-east of Turkey and part of Syria caused the death of at least 11,700 people in the two countries, including more than 2,600 in a Syria already devastated by more than ten years of war, according to the latest information provided Wednesday by official officials.

The resuscitator Raphaël Pitti, specialist in war medicine, training manager and administrator of the NGO Mehad (ex-UOSSM France), which is mobilizing to help the victims, analyzes for “the Obs” the situation in the area of Idlib, the last Syrian rebel stronghold, whose population is half made up of displaced people and where there was already only one humanitarian corridor and only five hospitals left.

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What is the situation in Syria?

Raphaël Pitti In the area of ​​Idlib, in northwestern Syria, there are more than 1,500 dead. You should know that in this area live 4.2 million people, including more than 2.2 million displaced since the civil war, 90% dependent on international humanitarian aid. Over time, the refugees had replaced the tents with small structures made of cinder blocks, corrugated iron, wood. And everything, absolutely everything, was swept away like a house of cards.

People are dazed and terrified and wander, in the middle of winter, taking shelter as best they can. They absolutely lack everything. They refuse to go to the shelters opened in an emergency for fear of a new aftershock. Even now, the earth continues to shake and the safest shelter is to stay in a tent. The quake destroyed roads, the port, and damaged the local power station, meaning that in areas near the Turkish border in Syria people have no electricity to cook and heat their homes. There are already deaths due to the cold.

What do you urgently need?

The first emergency is vital: it is necessary to distribute tents, blankets, heating, lighting, food parcels. The second is health: we must strengthen the resources of hospitals on site. However, Turkey has closed the Syrian-Turkish border at Bab al-Hawa for 24 hours, declaring a state of emergency, and interrupted the transfers of hospitalized patients in critical condition. This crossing was the only lifeline for millions of people in northwestern Syria living in areas beyond the control of the Syrian government.

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What do we need on site?

There are only five hospitals left for the whole area, which have been totally saturated since the earthquake. We absolutely lack everything: medicines, dialysis machines. We would like to open a field hospital to receive the most seriously injured. We demand the reopening of two humanitarian corridors, including that of Bab al-Salameh in the Kurdish-majority Afrin region (Aleppo province), in northern Syria, which was also hard hit by the earthquake.

What is special about Idlib?

Idlib is the last rebel stronghold that managed to establish an ultimate resistance against the government of Bashar al-Assad. The Northeast is in the hands of the Kurds, allies of the United States and France, themselves threatened by the Turks since Erdogan approved a military operation aimed at taking control of the region and ending the presence Kurdish. This area is therefore subject to permanent geopolitical blackmail. To allow the delivery of international aid in the areas then under the control of the opposition of Al-Assad, the UN had created the border post of Bab al-Hawa in 2014.

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The Security Council then decided to resort to the use of four crossing points along the Syrian border, one of which is directly linked to Jordan, one to Iraq and the other two to Turkey, in order to help the people of the region. Through resolution 2533, Council members vote annually on the renewal of the border crossings, which are themselves administered by the United Nations. However, Russia and China, two permanent members of the Security Council, have vetoed the maintenance of several border crossings which have provided humanitarian aid to more than 4 million people since 2016.

To date, there is only one humanitarian corridor left. In addition, for the past year, the area has been marked by a series of ceasefire breaches by the Syrian army and Russian troops, the biggest escalation since the signing of the cessation of violence in 2020. These aerial attacks and bombardments also destroyed several medical infrastructures that provided assistance to the population.

How to change things?

We are trying to convince France and our leaders to present a new resolution to the UN Security Council. An air health corridor should also be opened to transport essential aid that cannot be purchased locally, due to corridor closures and the shortage of essential products, the prices of which have more than tripled in Turkey. .

Source : Nouvelobs

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