Statement on the earthquake in Turkey and Syria

Turkey and Syria are experiencing one of the deadliest earthquakes in recent history. Policy and Campaigns Officer, Alaq, talks about the failures happening against people in North Syria. 

Turkey and Syria are experiencing one of the deadliest earthquakes in recent history. I was in Istanbul at the time of the earthquake. I, alongside the team, wanted to use Health Poverty Action’s platform to talk about the current failures happening against people in North Syria using my experience.

The situation is really terrible on the ground. It’s freezing here as a snowstorm hit the country earlier in the week. I was at donation centers earlier in the week, people are trying to send as much immediate help as possible. There are operations for blood, clothes, food donations everywhere in the city. The Immigration Department has also been arranging flights for volunteers to go to affected areas and help with rescue. Local organisations need support.

There are so many complications in terms of finances, politics and infrastructure. It’s a humanitarian crisis in the middle of refugee and economic crises. Syrian families in refugee camps in Hatay (South of Turkey) who have no identification on them, and were waiting to be deported to North Syria, are being kicked out of their tents into the cold to make room for others. The Syrian regime is limiting how much support is reaching parts of North Syria that are out of its control- it’s also spreading misinformation about volunteer groups (the likes of Molham Team and The White Helmets)…targeting, killing, and detaining them.

The Syrian regime is preventing help from reaching affected areas of North Syria. It is essentially putting pressure using UN agencies and the international community to funnel all supplies through Damascus where it has control, and then limit their reach to affected areas in the north where it has no control. So despite what some news outlets are saying, the sanctions on Syria are not the main issue at the moment, it’s how those resources are being distributed once they’re in the country.

The UN office in Damascus has reportedly stopped all donations from the Syrian Red Cross from reaching Idlib, which is outside of its control. It’s also controlling all support coming from the Algerian government and being vague on where that’s being distributed. The regime is leaving people to starve in hope of regaining control over the land. It’s absolutely vile.

From everything I’m seeing people are far more wary of UN agencies and the big humanitarian organisations as they’re being used by the regime for its own agenda. They are instead choosing to support and donate to local organisations.

You can help by spreading this information. Do not let the deliberate actions by the Syrian Government go unnoticed and unchallenged by the international community. Their actions deserve outrage, and if nothing is done people will continue to die because of it.

While it is not usual for charities to ask for people to give money to other organisations, we want to do our part in helping anyway we can. Health Poverty Action does not work in Syria or Turkey and so cannot support directly. If you can support, please give to local organisations.

This post was written by Alaq Al-Muwali, Policy and Campaigns Officer for Health Poverty Action. Click here to see the campaign Alaq is working on. It was posted on Alaq’s behalf by Alex Gallucci.