Beirut, Mar 6 (EFE).- One month after powerful twin earthquakes struck northern Syria, people in the war-torn nation are still struggling with dire conditions and slow-paced relief efforts, aid organizations said on Monday.
“One month later, life for children in earthquake-affected areas remains unimaginably hard. Thousands are still living in tents, rubble is still being cleared from the streets, and basic services are still insufficient to meet children’s needs,” Kathryn Achilles of Save the Children Syria told Efe.
Only a few schools have reopened in the affected areas, Achilles said, stressing the need to allow all children to return to school to re-establish a “sense of normality” after the disaster.
Before February 6, many minors were already at risk of dropping out of school amid an almost 12-year-long civil war and a serious economic crisis which has pushed around 90% of the population below the poverty threshold, according to UN figures.
“There is a real risk that without additional support that more children will have to drop out of school because their families have to make the difficult decision to send them to work or into child marriage,” Achilles warned.
She believes the humanitarian response to the earthquakes must not only focus on the “life-saving aspect” but also should guarantee “decent livelihoods” for parents so that they can provide for their families.
In a statement, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) pointed out that funding to aid those affected has so far “fallen short of the immediate needs of Syrians” since the United Nations has received less than half of the nearly $400 million required for Syria.
Furthermore, there are no longer enough funds to deal with the pre-quake humanitarian situation that has been worsening since the conflict out broke in 2011, according to the NRC.
“My colleagues in Syria describe a worsening humanitarian crisis on the back of a natural disaster. Some people have to survive on a bag of bread and tinned food, which is all they have received this past month,” MRC Middle East regional director Carsten Hansen said.
ACCESS TO OPPOSITION AREAS
In opposition-controlled northwest Syria, delivering humanitarian aid was marred in controversy because the first United Nations aid convoy did not arrive until four days after the earthquakes.
Jesse Marks, the Refugees International senior advocate for the Middle East, said in a statement that the humanitarian response in the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo “remains an unconscionable failure” a month later.
A week after the quake, the Syrian government allowed the UN to increase the number of border crossings to be able to provide aid to rebel strongholds directly from across the Turkish border.
According to Refugees International, some 557 trucks loaded with aid have entered opposition strongholds per day since February 9, but less than 20% of them have done so through additional crossings.
Marks called for the use of the access points to be increased and urged the United Nations Security Council to hold an emergency session to pass a resolution giving the “indefinite” green light to use all crossings between Syria and Turkey.EFE