Sanctions against Syria by the United States and the European Union prevent urgent aid from reaching those in need after the devastating earthquake, the country’s representative to the United Nations said Tuesday.
“Many planes, cargo planes, refuse to land at Syrian airports because of US and European sanctions,” said Bassam Sabbagh, Syria’s permanent representative to the UN in New York.
“So even those countries that want to send humanitarian aid…can’t use the planeload because of the sanctions.”
Bassam added that search and rescue efforts were hampered by the lack of aid, saying: “Of course the lack of equipment, the lack of capabilities in the government, is because of the situation and because of the sanctions.”
He called on all UN member states to help.
“All of Syria needs this help, so whenever and whatever we get, it will be for all Syrians,” he said.
Some context: According to the state news agency SANA, most of the casualties in Syria have been reported in the northwest of the country, mainly in the cities of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartus.
This region was already struggling to rebuild vital infrastructure badly damaged by continuous aerial bombing during the country’s civil war, which the UN estimates has claimed 300,000 lives since 2011.
Half of northwestern Syria’s 4.6 million people have been displaced from their homes by the conflict, and 1.7 million people now live in tents and refugee camps in the region, according to the UN children’s organization UNICEF. Last year, the agency reported that 3.3 million Syrians in the area were food insecure.
Several parts of northwestern Syria, including Idlib, are still controlled by anti-government rebels.