Netherlands to give €10 million in aid to earthquake-hit Syria

view of aleppo city from the citadel in syria
view of aleppo city from the citadel in syria

The Dutch government is to give €10 million in aid to Syria in the wake of the earthquake that has left at least 2,500 people dead in a country already torn apart by civil war.

Overseas aid minister Liesbeth Schreinemacher said support for Syria was complicated by the lack of diplomatic ties and sanctions against president Bashar Al-Assad’s regime that restrict access to the country.

The affected region includes the cities of Aleppo and Homs, which have been devastated by 12 years of fighting and aerial bombardment supported by Russia, as well as the capital, Damascus.

Parts of the northern Idlib region, which has been hit by the magnitude 7.8 quake, are controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which is regarded by the United Nations as a terrorist organisation.

Schreinemacher said the aid to Syria would mostly be in the form of emergency relief, such as food and water supplies, tents and blankets. Around €7 million will be channelled through UN aid programmes, with the rest coming from Dutch-based organisations.

‘Turkey is receiving help from all sides but we mustn’t forget Syria,’ she said. ‘Civil war has been raging there for years. For them this is disaster upon disaster. It’s very important that we support them.’

‘Lift sanctions’

Former VVD Amsterdam councillor Hala Naoum Nehme, originally from Aleppo, called for sanctions to be temporarilly lifted to allow relief teams into the region.

‘This is not the moment for politics,’ she told NPO1. ‘Ordinary Syrians who have nothing to do with the conflict are now paying the price.’

The Dutch urban search and rescue team (USAR), which arrived in the earthquake zone on Tuesday evening, has rescued seven people from the rubble so far, NOS reported.

‘Sometimes it’s an easy task, other times it takes us hours to reach the victim and we have to break through concrete and rubble with drills and saws,’ spokesman Jop Heinen said.

The official death toll in Turkey and Syria passed 11,000 on Wednesday, but is expected to rise further.

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