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WHO concerned over lack of aid in northwestern Syria after earthquake

The World Health Organization has said it was particularly concerned over the welfare
of people in northwestern Syria, an opposition-controlled region with little
access to aid since the earthquakes struck last week.

“It’s clear that the zone of greatest concern at the moment
is the area of northwestern Syria,” WHO’s emergencies director,
Mike Ryan, told reporters in Geneva.

“The impact of the earthquake in areas of Syria controlled
by the government is significant, but the services are there and
there is access to those people. We have to remember here that
in Syria, we’ve had ten years of war. The health system is
amazingly fragile. People have been through hell,” he added during the briefing on Wednesday.

Efforts to distribute aid have been hampered by a civil war
that has splintered the country for more than a decade.

Civil
war enmities have obstructed at least two attempts to send aid
across frontlines into Syria’s northwest, but an aid convoy
reached the area overnight.

Ryan, however, described the opening of the crossing points
as a sign “all sides are stepping back and focusing on the needs
of the people right now.”

“It is an impossibility at times to provide adequate health
care in the context of eternal conflict,” he said.

“We’ve seen a huge ramp-up of aid. We’ve seen the deployment of emergency medical teams. We’ve seen all the things that we need to see in a disaster. But this is not sustainable unless we have a more peaceful context in which this can happen more effectively.”

READ MORE: Earthquake aid enters Syria’s opposition-run areas through new route

WHO asks for more aid access

Meanwhile, senior WHO officials visiting to Damascus in the wake of last week’s quakes asked Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad to open more border crossings with Türkiye to get aid to areas of northern Syria hit by powerful earthquakes.

“We requested that he (Assad) allow additional cross-border access points, which he indicated he was open to,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva.

“On Monday, two more cross border points were opened, allowing convoys from Türkiye into the northwest of the Syrian Arab Republic.”

READ MORE: Syrians fend for themselves in war-torn Idlib after deadly quake disaster

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