Ten IOM trucks with humanitarian aid have passed from Turkey to northwestern Syria via the Bab al-Salam crossing, a UN spokesman said.
An aid convoy passed through a reopened border crossing into rebel-held northwest Syria, where aid has been slow to arrive since last week’s earthquake.
As hopes of finding people alive under the rubble fade more than 200 hours after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake, the focus has shifted to providing food and shelter to the large number of survivors. The death toll in the region topped 40,000 on Tuesday.
The crossing was the first time a UN convoy had used the crossing to deliver aid since it was closed in 2020.
Ten trucks from the International Organization for Migration with humanitarian aid passed through the Bab al-Salam crossing, a spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told Al Jazeera.
The 11th truck was expected to pass through the crossing shortly after the first convoy.
Another 26 inter-agency trucks passed through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, so far the only entry point for UN humanitarian aid to reach people directly in opposition-held northwestern Syria.
“UN cross-border aid is a lifeline,” UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths tweeted.
The crossing has been closed to UN aid since 2020, under pressure at the UN Security Council from Syrian regime ally Russia, which instead sought all aid to the war-torn country to enter through government-held territory.
The convoy passed a day after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed to allow UN aid to enter from Turkey via two more border crossings, marking a shift for Damascus that has long opposed cross-border aid deliveries to the rebel enclave.
Nearly nine million people in Syria have been affected by the earthquake, the UN said, as it launched an appeal for $400 million in funding to help the situation there.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the scale of the devastation caused by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that ravaged southern Turkey and northwestern Syria on February 6 was “one of the worst in recent times” and “we all know that life-saving aid has not been coming in with the necessary speed and scope.”
He said the $397 million would provide “desperately needed, life-saving assistance to nearly 5 million Syrians – including shelter, health care, food and protection” over three months.
Guterres said that the UN is in the final stages of preparing an emergency call for the earthquake-ravaged south of Turkey.
He called on the international community to provide emergency funds without delay, saying: “People’s suffering from this epic natural disaster should not be made worse by man-made barriers – access, financing, supplies.”
Fears for survivors on both sides of the border have grown, with the UN saying more than seven million children have been adversely affected in Syria and Turkey, raising fears that “many thousands” more have died.
“It is tragically clear that the numbers will continue to rise,” said James Elder, a spokesman for the UN children’s agency UNICEF, adding that the final toll would be “staggering”.