Turkey and Syria Earthquake Survivors Now Risk Freezing to Death

Number of deaths from Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake on the Turkish-Syrian border topped 11,000 And climbing mountain as aid agencies warn the coming days could be the worst. Hopes for survivors trapped under the rubble have dimmed as freezing temperatures and blizzard forecasts complicate their chances of survival.

The World Health Organization has warned of the grave danger that survivors in remote areas are now freezing to death without electricity, food, water or shelter. “We don’t have a tent, we don’t have a fireplace, we don’t have anything. Our children are in bad shape. Aysan Kurt, 27, told The Associated Press. “We won’t die of hunger or an earthquake, but we will freeze to death from the cold.”

Many aid agencies and NGOs working in the area fear the death toll could rise dramatically due to a lack of amenities for those who have lost their homes. “We have received reports of casualties among children and the elderly who fell ill and died from the cold,” said Ahmed Mahmoud, country director of Islamic Relief in Syria. told Middle Eastern Eye. “The people in the tent are burning whatever they can find. Some people accidentally burned their tents or suffocated from the smoke they were burning to keep warm inside.”

Rescue workers could not even reach the many destroyed towns in northern and northwestern Syria, which are under opposition control and besieged by Russian-backed forces, a partly because roads leading to an authorized border checkpoint, Bab al-Hawa, were blocked. suffered heavy damage. Two other checkpoints remained closed for years due to Russia’s veto power over the United Nations Security Council, which backs the ruling government of Bashar al-Assad.

As a result, no international aid was approved, although volunteers from dozens of countries sent manpower and supplies. And Syria’s ruling government controls all aid sent to rebel-held areas, where some 4.6 million people are internally displaced, currently served by the so-called armed forces. The White Helmets population is being thinned out.

“The areas hardest hit by the earthquake inside Syria appear to be run by the Turkish-controlled opposition, not the Syrian government,” said Mark Lowcock, former director of human affairs. of the United Nations. “It will take Turkish approval to receive aid to those areas. It doesn’t look like the Syrian government will do much to help.”

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