The Syrian government says it has set up more than 100 shelters equipped with relief supplies for those affected by the earthquake in government-controlled areas, including in the cities of Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Tartus and Latakia, a coastal city with the highest number of deaths and more than 100 collapsed buildings.
In Aleppo, one of the cities hardest hit by the quake, 126 shelters have been set up and 52 mosques converted into centers for people affected by the quake, state news agency SANA said. In Latakia, the government says it has provided 23 shelters and converted 20 mosques into relief centers.
A total of 11 shelters have been set up in Hama, Homs and Tartus, SANA added.
The Assad regime says it is providing the necessary resources for hospitals to function in the cities it controls, but is calling for additional medical equipment from donor governments and organizations.
“A disaster of this magnitude puts additional strain on the health sector, which suffers from a shortage of medical needs and medical supplies due to the sanctions imposed on Syria,” Syrian Health Minister Hassan al-Ghobash said, according to state media.
“We demand immediate and urgent intervention from all organizations to provide all necessary medical assistance,” al-Ghobash said.
Human rights groups have in the past accused the Syrian government of imposing severe restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid across the country in order to “punish those who express dissent,” according to Human Rights Watch.
Asked whether the Assad-led government will allow aid from Turkey into rebel-held areas, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said international aid will be distributed only by the Syrian government.
“The Syrian state is ready to allow aid in all regions, provided it does not reach terrorist armed groups,” Mekdad said.
What does the UN say about efforts to help Syria: Aid is slowly reaching those in need, but even before the earthquake, the United Nations said 70% of Syria’s population needed humanitarian aid.
“This tragedy will have a devastating impact on many vulnerable families who struggle daily to care for their loved ones,” the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim for Syria and the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis said in a statement. . joint statement on Tuesday.
The UN and humanitarian partners say they are currently focusing on immediate needs, including food, shelter, non-food items and medicines.
DailyExpertNews’s Ruba Alhenawi, Raja Razek and Hilary Whiteman contributed to this post.