Published: 2023-03-21 12:10
Last Updated: 2023-06-07 21:33
Monday, the head of the UN Development Program (UNDP) underlined the importance of addressing immediate humanitarian needs in quake-stricken Syria and Turkey, and efforts to promote recovery.
Administrator Achim Steiner said the UN is “committed to step up and deploy our assets across the development and humanitarian spheres to stand with; and deliver for communities in Türkiye and Syria.”
“That means providing emergency assistance to enable people to survive from day to day, always the number one priority,” he explained.
“It also involves contributing the funds they will need to start returning to normality, to start working again, and to start piecing back together the communities that lays in ruins around them,” he added.
The UN continues to deploy emergency teams and relief operations in both countries. However, a USD 1 billion appeal for Turkey is less than 17 percent funded, he said, while a USD 398 million flash appeal for Syria has so far received nearly USD 290 million.
“At this tragic moment for the people of Türkiye and Syria, your support will help to light the candles that will illuminate a way out of this darkness, and these candles cannot flicker; they must light the path to recovery,”Steiner said.
In addition to the 500,000 Syrians now displaced, thousands more have lost access to basic services and livelihoods, he reported. Furthermore, shelters, camps, and informal settlements are overcrowded, violence and abuse are on the rise, and the threat of cholera is looming.
“Thousands of men, women, children, orphans and vulnerable people need shelter, food, medicine, blankets, toilets, water, electricity, sewerage, education, health services, and protection,” he said. “Above all, they need dignity, jobs, and legitimate options in life. If left without options, people will seek alternatives elsewhere.”
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the country El-Mostafa Benlamlih warned against “business as usual”, as assistance must lift Syrians out of poverty, reduce vulnerabilities, and break the cycle of dependency on aid.
“Let us focus on people not on politics. We need your support, we need funds, and we need access,” he said.
Every day since 9 February, an average of 22 trucks carrying aid provided by seven UN agencies have crossed from Turkey into north-west Syria, using the three available border crossings.
“Our humanitarian colleagues warn about the lack of resources to replenish emergency stocks, with the main Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria being only 5.7 percent funded,” said UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, speaking during the daily media briefing at UN Headquarters in New York.
Aid partners report that their emergency response stocks have been depleted, putting operations at risk unless urgent funding is made available, he said.
He added that the Syrian healthcare system, which was already overwhelmed before the earthquake, is also at risk of collapse in some areas, depriving people in need of life-saving medical services.