Syrian Earthquake Victims Desperately Need Aid — and an End to US Sanctions

The devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria has killed over 40,000 people, a quantity the United Nations has warned could escalate. The destruction is unfathomable.

In keeping with the UN, no less than 870,000 individuals throughout Turkey and Syria are in pressing want of hot meals. In Syria, round 5.3 million persons are in want of shelter. Over 1 million individuals in Turkey live in temporary shelters.

As a Syrian American whose household hails from Aleppo, it’s been painful for me to course of the earthquake’s aftermath.

It looks like one other punch within the intestine after the horrors and anguish Syrians have already endured by means of years of battle, displacement, and sanctions. Historic cultural treasures like Aleppo’s historic Citadel, which greeted my mother and father on their option to college once they have been rising up, have suffered significant damage.

Heartbreaking tales have emerged from Turkey and Syria. In a single broadly shared image, photographer Adem Altan memorialized the anguish of a father as he sat alone amidst the rubble, holding onto his deceased 15-year-old daughter’s hand.

Tales of rescue have additionally ignited glints of hope amid such profound despair. Rescuers pulled a 10-year-old lady to security after she was trapped for 147 hours beneath a collapsed constructing. A new child child was rescued from the rubble after relations discovered her nonetheless tied by her umbilical twine to her mom, who had sadly handed away.

This earthquake is the newest disaster inside a bigger disaster in Syria, already fractured by tremors from political fault strains for over a decade now. Over 300,000 individuals have been killed there since battle broke out in 2011.

Previous to the earthquake, an estimated 6.7 million individuals have been already internally displaced. Thousands and thousands extra have been impoverished by U.S. and European sanctions designed to strangle the economic system and oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Extra U.S. sanctions since 2020 have focused key sectors, together with the Central Financial institution, oil, vitality, and building. They’ve additionally blocked meals, drugs, medical tools, and different requirements.

These sanctions have failed. As an alternative of eradicating Assad from energy, they’ve collectively punished harmless Syrians. Ninety % of Syrians now reside in poverty, and 12 million are food insecure. With greater than half of Syria’s infrastructure both destroyed or severely broken by battle, sanctions have made reconstruction and financial restoration impossible.

This was the state of affairs earlier than the earthquake struck.

Months earlier, UN envoy Alena Douhan called for an finish to sanctions: “I urge the speedy lifting of all unilateral sanctions that severely hurt human rights and forestall any efforts for early restoration, rebuilding, and reconstruction,” she stated. Her advice has even better urgency in the present day.

In a de facto admission that sanctions are hurting civilians, the U.S. Division of Treasury not too long ago agreed to open a 180-day window authorizing transactions “associated to earthquake reduction efforts” in Syria. Though a welcome growth, it’s solely a short-term reprieve from these sanctions’ far-reaching catastrophic impacts.

For the U.S., sustaining these failed sanctions whereas pledging to be “a associate to the individuals of Syria” is contradictory and counterproductive.

They need to be completely lifted to permit Syrians the possibility to lastly catch their breath and start to rebuild from these crises with dignity. The U.S. and worldwide group should additionally redouble their diplomatic efforts towards ending the battle, as an alternative of prolonging it. Tragedy ought to transcend political divisions, not reinforce them.

Turkey and Syria each face a protracted street to restoration. We must always lengthen compassion and assist to the earthquake victims. Sustained worldwide support is required in each the speedy and long run.

Past support, solely an finish to the battle will convey lasting reduction for Syrians.

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