International organizations are calling for more border crossings to be opened for aid to reach Northwestern Syria, where thousands of people have died following Monday’s earthquake in neighboring Turkey. Even before the quake, the opposition-held region of Syria was deep in humanitarian crisis, with 4.1 million out of its 4.5 million inhabitants depending on humanitarian aid, following a nearly 12-year-long civil war that is still ongoing.
As Statista’s Anna Fleck shows in the chart below, currently only one UN-sanctioned border crossing is operational between Turkey and Syria. It saw the first convoy of six trucks carrying aid on Thursday, three days after the quake struck, despite having been planned before the earthquake. According to the UN, the convoy was hampered by heavy damage to roads on the Turkish side. The second convoy is reported to have arrived only today.
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It has been particularly difficult to get aid to the people in need in northwestern Syria since decisions must be negotiated with the Assad government, often with Turkey and Russia too, via the UN, which can be a slow process.
So far, Syrian government-controlled areas have received some aid, provided from countries such as Russia, Iraq and Iran. This list of donors is more limited to that of Turkey since many countries do not want to have direct dealings with Assad following the civil war. When delivering aid to the Syrian government directly, it has a hold over what aid is delivered where, meaning it likely won’t go to the opposition-held regions. According to the Guardian, in 2021, researchers found that the Central Bank of Syria was taking 51 cents in every dollar of aid.
Between 2014 and 2021, there were four crossings sanctioned by the UN into Syria. Since then, however, UN Security Council vetoes from China and Russia cut these down to just one, the Bab al-Hawa crossing.
Reuters reports that Ankara is currently discussing reopening a border crossing into Syrian government territory and also considering opening another into the Idlib region.
A total of 21,000 people were killed when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey, ricocheting into neighboring Syria.