damascus [Syria]Feb. 11 (ANI): As many as 5.3 million people in Syria may have been displaced by the earthquake,” Sivanka Dhanapala, UNHCR’s Syria representative, told a news conference.
“We are also leading the way here in the protection sector. Across Syria we have a network of community centres, satellite centres, outreach volunteers which help us reach vulnerable groups. There is a hotline for conservation related issues and we use it,” he added.
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Roads were damaged by the earthquake, hampering humanitarian aid to the affected population.
The United Nations estimates that 5.37 million quake-affected people across the country need housing assistance, he said.
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The UN refugee agency has been providing aid to hard-hit parts of the country. The agency has focused on providing shelter and relief items, ensuring adequate facilities in the collective centers that displaced people go to, as well as tents, plastic sheeting, warming blankets, sleeping pads, winter clothing and more.
He noted that the most vulnerable among those affected were the elderly, the disabled and some children separated from their parents.
The combined death toll in Turkey and Syria surpassed 23,000 on Friday, according to officials, CNN reported.
At least 20,213 people were killed and 80,052 injured in an earthquake that hit 10 provinces in Turkey this week, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said, according to Turkish state media Anadolu.
Citizens rescued from the wreckage have been transferred to provinces outside the quake-hit area, he said.
Digital photos of those unidentified are being uploaded to “special software for matching,” Koca said.
“I hope we can get the identity information of most people,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Syrian White Helmets said at least 2,166 people were killed in the massive earthquake in rebel-held northwest Syria.
The death toll in government-controlled areas has also risen to 1,387 dead and 2,326 wounded, state media said on Thursday, citing the Syrian health ministry.
This brings the total number of deaths in Syria to 3,553.
Rescuers are still in a race against time to pull survivors from the rubble. Turkey has carried out some successful rescues, but an aid group says hope is fading in parts of Syria.
“Delivery of emergency supplies to affected rebel-held areas in northwestern Syria has been complicated by the protracted civil war. The Syrian government on Friday approved aid to these areas, but did not provide a timetable,” the official statement said.
“For Syria, it’s a crisis within a crisis. We’ve had the economic shock, COVID-19, and now it’s the middle of winter, with blizzards in the affected areas. Some of our own employees are sleeping outside because they fear their homes will be damaged by the structure. Sexual devastation. It’s just a microcosm of what’s happening across the affected region,” he said.
6.8 million people have been internally displaced in the country. This was before the earthquake.
“The agency is looking at life-saving activities, you know, the adaptation of group centres, tents, non-food items, etc. And then we’ll be looking at supporting livelihoods and essential services in the affected areas, providing shelter support over the next eight to 12 weeks , installing emergency shelter kits, and doing minor repairs to damaged homes. We’ll be looking at removing debris, working to provide equipment and capacity support to authorities and partners, mobilizing engineers, and how we can support communities in assessing some structural damage and considering them the way forward for their livelihood opportunities,” reads an official UNHCR press release.
Traffic has been severely hampered in northwestern Syria, which has been hit particularly hard. Our so-called “across the line” supplies (from the government area to the Northwest) had come through before the earthquake – these were pre-positioned and being distributed from warehouses. From now on, we hope to reach an agreement with the government to allow quick and regular access to these areas.
“He’s going to Aleppo, Hama and Latakia next week, where we pre-stocked 30,000 core relief items and 20,000 tents,” said Dhanapala, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ representative in Syria. The UN Secretary-General spoke last night: It’s about people. That’s what matters.” (ANI)
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