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UN, Syria slam attempts to politicize humanitarian aid response to quake-hit regions

People gather as rescuers search for survivors under the rubble, following an earthquake, in the town of Jandaris, northwestern Syria, on February 6, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

The United Nations and Syria have condemned attempts by certain parties to politicize the humanitarian response to the massive earthquake that caused tremendous destruction in the northwestern sector of the war-ravaged country.

Nations must “depoliticize” the humanitarian response for victims of February 6 earthquake in Syria, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, told the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

It is not the time “to play politics with crossings across borders or front lines … this is not the time for military action or violence,” Pedersen said by video link.

He made clear that the situation was “unsustainable” and the status quo “totally unacceptable.”

Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Bassam al-Sabbagh, also stressed that the Damascus government strongly opposes tne efforts to politicize humanitarian aid response to quake victims.

“International efforts to address repercussions of the earthquake must now focus on reconstruction of the essential infrastructure and repair of the damage that utilities have suffered,” Sabbagh noted.

He added that Damascus spares no effort to provide relief aid to people in quake-hit areas in northwestern Syria.

“Syria is determined to deliver humanitarian aid to all affected people,” Sabbagh said.

The top Syrian diplomat lamented that restrictions imposed on Syrian hospitals, and international pharmaceutical companies’ refusal to sell medicines and medical equipment have aggravated the burdens of Syria’s health sector.

“The illegal US control over oil and gas reserves in the northeastern part of Syria, and constant smuggling of petroleum out of the country have deprived Syrians of the multi-billion-dollar proceeds from their national assets,” Sabbagh said.

On Friday, a pan-Arab international campaign announced plans for launching a popular convoy to confront the long-running blockade imposed by the United States and the European Union on Syria, which is currently suffering the aftermath of a devastating earthquake.

According to the latest figures, more than 50,000 were killed by the disastrous earthquake that hit Turkey and neighboring earlier this month.

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