White Helmets demand extra border crossings to allow earthquake aid into north-west Syria

UN lambasted for 'failure to act quickly to save Syrian lives'

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The White Helmets have demanded additional border crossings be opened into north-west Syria to allow added humanitarian aid into the opposition-held area of the country.

Since the earthquake struck barely any aid has trickled from Turkey into north-west Syria, which was already in dire need of more humanitarian support before the earthquake nearly a week ago.

On Sunday, the head of the White Helmets Raed Al Saleh met UN aid chief Martin Griffiths at Bab Al Hawa, the only crossing into north-west Syria allowed to shuttle in UN humanitarian assistance. The White Helmets are a rescue group operating in north-west Syria.

"Since the moment the earthquake struck seven days ago we have been appealing to the UN to send urgent assistance to aid our rescue operations in north-west Syria. For days these calls went unheeded and during this time countless lives have been needlessly lost," Mr Saleh said after meeting Mr Griffiths.

"This visit is too little, too late. The UN's failure to act quickly to save Syrian lives in the face of a humanitarian catastrophe is utterly shameful and should be a stain on its conscience."

UN chief Antonio Guterres recently urged the Security Council to authorise the opening of additional crossings on the Turkey-Syria border to allow extra aid to be delivered to the north-west of the country.

“Waiting for UN Security Council authorisation to reopen more border crossings into the north-west is completely misguided, this unnecessary stalling will only cost more lives," Mr Saleh said.

"There can be no more delays. We urgently need the UN to open more border crossings into north-west Syria so that cross-border humanitarian aid can flow in unhindered. Failing to escalate medical aid deliveries rapidly will leave the UN with more blood on its hands.”

Permanent UN Security Council members Russia and China have repeatedly vetoed efforts to open up additional crossings into north-west Syria.

Updated: February 12, 2023, 2:29 PM