Earthquake Aid to Syria
On Monday, February 6, 2023, an earthquake of 7.8 magnitudes devastated South-Eastern Turkey and neighboring Syria. The earthquake has had devastating effects, killing more than 22,000 people, as of February 10, 2023. The area felt an aftershock of 7.5 magnitudes almost nine hours later and since then almost 150 aftershocks hit the region. For Syria, a country already suffering from the effects of a brutal civil war, the earthquake has been a major tragedy as the international world races and struggles to get aid to their affected areas.

Previous Needs for Humanitarian Assistance

Prior to the devasting effects of the earthquake, Norther Syria already had more than 4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Estimates indicated that the recent earthquakes affected almost 9 million people, raising the urgency and need for humanitarian aid to Syria. There is a major shortage of supplies currently in hospitals in Northwestern Syria, meaning many who have earthquake-related injuries are at risk of not getting the treatment they urgently need. Earthquakes damaged and destroyed many hospitals and as they are facing issues with undersupplying and overcrowding, necessities such as fuel and medicine are in extremely short supply.


What is a striking reality considering the urgency of the current situation is the divide in aid that others offered to both Syria and Turkey. According to Sky News, getting aid to Syria is much more difficult due to the effects of the civil war, which has divided the country into different political fragments and the oppressive ruling government’s treatment of the population. In addition, many people have criticized the U.N.’s poor response to the current situation. Local rescuers have said that the U.N. aid that they have received was the regular supplies and assistance they were receiving before the earthquake.

According to BBC, the White Helmets, an organization that is active on the ground, has reported that the supplies received do not include any special equipment or aid for search and rescue teams, leaving people trapped under the rubble. The White Helmets volunteers on the ground reported that a lack of heavy machinery was severely hampering its rescue efforts and was strongly appealing to the international community for urgent aid to Syria. Finally, the politicization of humanitarian assistance has posed a major obstacle as the international community struggles to react efficiently.

Hope Still Exists

Regardless of the obstacles, hope still exists for Syria. The U.K. has increased its funding for the White Helmets and other agencies on the ground. Around 19 states of the European Union have promised water, sanitation reliefs, blankets, hygiene items and funding for humanitarian organizations. Russia is sending rescue teams to Syria and the Chinese Red Cross has pledged around £167,000 of aid to Syria. The UAE has also pledged £11.4 million in humanitarian aid and is sending medical equipment and search and rescue teams to the country, according to Sky News. Although the response may have been slow, the international community is slowly picking up its act and reacting to the urgency of the situation.

– Saad Haque
Photo: Flickr

The Success of Humanitarian Aid to SyriaGoing into its seventh year, the Syrian civil war has created one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time. With more than 480,000 people killed and 11 million people displaced from their homes, the international community has grappled with the question of how to bring relief to Syrians amid active hostilities and uncertain circumstances.

The scope and complexity of the conflict, along with the government’s restriction on aid to various regions (especially rebel-held territories), have severely limited international organizations’ relief workers and supplies from reaching much of the country.

Once in a while, though, a humanitarian push manages to rise above the proverbial brick wall that is armed conflict to give hope that there can be successes for humanitarian aid to Syria. Such is the case with the education program bringing new opportunities to some of the hardest-to-reach students in the war-torn city of Aleppo.

With increased access to parts of Aleppo, the Syrian Society for Social Development (SSSD) has begun offering free classes and tutoring to students in the city. This comes at a time when 1.75 million school-aged children are out of the classroom and 1.35 million more are at risk of dropping out.

The SSSD provides a variety of programs, including remedial classes for students who have missed school as well as tutoring, education supplies and registration help. Through some of their informal education programs, they facilitate the transition of dropout students back into the critical thinking mindset of learning to eventually return to formal education.

Zooming out of Aleppo to the rest of Syria, the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan stated that over 1.1 million children were reached through various forms of formal and informal education. These children, along with the 179,118 people who have been reached through women and girls’ empowerment activities, are reason for the hope of continued success of humanitarian aid to Syria.

To get back on its feet economically and promote political stability for the future, Syria cannot afford to lose a generation of educated youths. While the push to get all Syrian children back into school remains an uphill battle in the ongoing conflict, the success of humanitarian aid to Syria gives hope that even the hardest-to-reach students can find their way into the classroom.

– Belén Loza

Photo: Flickr