US sanctions hamper relief efforts to earthquake victims: Syria

Aftermath of the deadly earthquake in Turkey and Syria that left around 8,000 people dead. [Photo: Twitter/ AllahGreatQuran]

Following the back-to-back earthquakes that left around 8,000 people dead in Turkey and Syria, with World Health Organisation warning that the death toll could surpass 20,000, Syria has said that US sanctions are major obstacles to humanitarian aid as these sanctions prevent the importation of medicine into the country.

The earthquake that hit Syria is a major catastrophe, and what exacerbated the issue is the status quo in Syria due to its war on terrorism and its backers, Iran Press reported quoting Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.

“The sanctions on Syria made the disaster all the worse,” Mekdad said. “The state is following up on the mobilization of aid domestically and abroad, and President Bashar Al-Assad requested that all the state’s capabilities be employed in search and rescue operations.”

“Aid from Europe does not need a request and bureaucracy, as humanitarian aid is not subject to sanctions,” Mekdad explained. “Humanitarian aid is not subject to sanctions in accordance with international laws, so this is not an excuse.”

Pertinently, the death toll of the devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey and Syria nears 8,000.

More than 23 million people could be affected by the disaster, the World Health Organization warned on Tuesday.

Earlier, the death count in Turkey was 5,894 and 1,932 in Syria. The number of injured rose to 31,777 and 1,449 respectively in Turkey and Syria, according to Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and the media office at the Aleppo governorate headquarters.

The death toll in both countries is expected to rise further as the rescue operations are hampered by bad weather, the BBC reported.

A powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck Turkey`s southern province of Kahramanmaras at 4:17 am local time on Monday, followed by a magnitude 6.4 quake a few minutes later in the country`s southern province of Gaziantep and a magnitude 7.6 earthquake at 1:24 p.m. local time in Kahramanmaras.

Turkey`s southern province of Hatay and Syria`s northern Aleppo city suffered the biggest loss of lives, while Lebanon, Israel and Cyprus also felt the tremor, the BBC reported.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency on Tuesday in 10 of the country`s provinces hit by the quakes.

The decision was taken in order to ensure that search and rescue activities and subsequent studies can be carried out quickly, he said at a press conference.

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