UAE joins international call for ceasefire to help quake-hit Syria

Joint statement by 11 countries, Arab League and the EU reaffirms support for those affected by February 6 earthquake

Emirates Red Crescent is setting up Ramadan tents and distributing food and clothes in Syria as part of the UAE's humanitarian mission to aid the earthquake-hit country. Wam
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Arab and western states on Friday called for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria as they reiterated their support for people affected by the earthquake last month.

The call follows a meeting in Amman this week of the UAE, US, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UK, European Union and the Arab League to discuss the situation in Syria in the aftermath of the powerful earthquake.

The 7.8-magnitude tremor and its aftershocks devastated southern Turkey and north-western Syria and killed more than 48,000 in Turkey and almost 6,000 in Syria, mostly in areas under control of rebel groups.

The countries expressed their "condolences for the immense devastation and loss of life caused by the February 6 earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, as well as our steadfast commitment to alleviate the suffering of those affected".

“We reiterated our call for a nationwide ceasefire and for continuous and unhindered humanitarian access to all Syrians through all modalities, including cross-border and cross-line,” the participants of the Amman meeting said in a joint statement.

“We called for the maintenance and expansion of United Nations cross-border aid, for which there is no alternative in scope or scale. We welcomed the recent facilitation by the Syrian authorities of UN cross-border humanitarian access through the Bab Al Salam and Al Rai crossings and called for this to continue.”

The statement said the countries "encouraged the international community to provide humanitarian assistance – including emergency response and early recovery projects – to all Syrians in need, especially those in the most affected areas".

They welcomed the outcomes of this week's international donor conference in Brussels to support the people in Syria and Turkey.

Donors at a EU-hosted conference on Monday pledged €7 billion ($7.52 billion) to help the two countries recover.

The total cost of the damage incurred in Turkey is estimated at $103.6 billion – equal to about 9 per cent of the country's gross domestic product.

The United Nations has set the "recovery costs" for Syria at $14.8 billion.

The earthquake flattened cities and displaced millions. Flash floods last week in the region further compounded the misery.

Aid groups had urged donors to step up their commitments after the UN complained of the poor response to a call it made in mid February for urgent funding.

Updated: March 24, 2023, 4:12 PM