The approval of humanitarian deliveries to the rebel-held northwest could speed up aid to millions of affected people.
The Syrian government has approved the delivery of humanitarian aid to areas outside its control in the country’s quake-hit rebel-held northwest, a move that could speed up the arrival of aid to millions of survivors.
“The Council of Ministers approves … the delivery of humanitarian aid to all parts of the Syrian Arab Republic,” the cabinet said in a statement on Friday, adding that its distribution should be overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent with the help of the United Nations.
The UN has pushed for a freer flow of aid to Syria, particularly to the north-west of the country, where it estimated that more than 4 million people were already in need of aid before the earthquake. He wants aid to move across the front lines inside Syria and across the border crossings with Turkey.
In three weeks, there have been no aid deliveries to the rebel-held northwest from areas under government control.
The UN routinely delivers aid to rebel-held areas, either from neighboring Turkey via the Bab al-Hawa crossing or from government-held areas.
More than 3,200 people died in the earthquake in Syria, many more were injured, and hundreds of thousands were displaced. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that the death toll in Turkey had risen above 19,000.
Dozens of planes full of aid have arrived in areas controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government since Monday, but few have reached the northwest, leaving many residents saying they feel forgotten.
Only two aid convoys have arrived in the region this week from Turkey, where authorities are engaged in an even larger post-quake relief operation of their own.
State media reported that the government had declared the areas most affected by Monday’s deadly earthquakes – Latakia, Hama, Aleppo and Idlib – disaster zones and would set up a fund to rebuild them.
UN chief Antonio Guterres called on the Security Council on Thursday to approve the opening of additional crossings on the Turkey-Syria border to deliver UN aid to earthquake victims in rebel-held areas.