In Syria, the earthquake creates a headache for NGOs and Western countries

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In Syria, the earthquake creates a headache for NGOs and Western countries

The town of Sarmada, in the rebel-held province of Idlib, was badly affected by the earthquake that struck Syria and the Turkey on February 6.

Monday's earthquake in Turkey and Syria multiplies the challenge posed to humanitarian organizations and Western countries to come to the aid of the Syrian population, in particular in the rebel zone of Idlib, in the north-west of the country.< /p>

As of Monday, the international community mobilized for Turkey, delivering emergency aid without delay. Countries such as France, Germany, the United States and Canada have also promised to rescue Syrian victims without immediately triggering relief efforts.

Syria remains a gray area from a legal and diplomatic point of view, observes Marc Schakal, head of the Syria program of Médecins sans Frontières, urging to send aid as soon as possible.

< p class="e-p">He fears that local and international NGOs will be overwhelmed in a country ravaged by twelve years of civil war, pitting rebels, some of them instrumentalized by foreign powers, jihadists, Kurdish forces, and the army of Bashar's government. Al-Assad, backed by Iran, Russia, and ostracized from nations.

Help is all the more crucial as the situation of the population was already dramatic, adds Professor Raphaël Pitti, an official of the French NGO MEHAD, particularly worried about the province of Idlib.

One of the major issues is access to this last major rebel and jihadist-held stronghold, home to 4.8 million people, he said.

Almost all humanitarian aid is brought there from Turkey through Bab al-Hawa, the only crossing point obtained by United Nations resolution.

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Shipping aid from Damascus-controlled Syrian territory would be diplomatically thorny. It would also suppose that the official regime wants to give it to the populations of the rebel zone and that the belligerents agree on its distribution.

The Bab al-Hawa crossing, disputed by Damascus and Moscow who denounce a violation of Syrian sovereignty, remains provisional and has been reduced to a trickle over time. Under pressure from Russia and China, the number of crossing points has in fact been reduced from four to one.

Bab al-Hawa could thus be quickly congested by the x27; influx of materials needed to help the population. Still, experts doubt whether old crossings can be reopened.

The regime in Damascus, under international sanctions since the start of the war in Syria in 2011, has urged the international community to come to its aid as the death toll continues to rise: more than 1,440 dead. And more than 3,380 in Turkey, according to provisional data.

A Syrian child in a temporary shelter in the town of Maarat Misrin in the rebel province of Idleb, Syria.

Syria's ambassador to the United Nations assured Monday the UN that this aid would go to all Syrians throughout the territory. He nevertheless posed the condition that this aid should pass from inside the country under the control of the regime.

Access from Syria exists, they can coordinate with the government and we will be ready to do so, argued Bassam Sabbagh, rejecting the possibility of sending aid through cross-border points. .

In Paris, as in Berlin, the authorities kick in touch.

It is a question of helping people in distress after this earthquake and this help must of course reach people by all possible means, thus underlines a German government source while specifying that Germany will use the usual NGO channels.

France could turn out to be less present than in other crises insofar as it is embarrassed at the corners of the crisis. #x27;go to a country whose legitimacy she does not recognize, says Emmanuel Dupuy, president of the Prospective and Security Institute.

Interview with Maurice Lamontagne, retired engineer-seismologist and associate professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at Carleton University, to better understand the natural disaster that occurred in Turkey.

Raphaël Pitti believes that the areas, under the authority of Damascus, will most likely receive international aid. As it has always been done for ten years.

But the professor fears that the population of Idleb in particular, which has 2.8 million refugees, will be left behind, especially since the Turkish authorities themselves have a lot to do with their own devastated areas.

The most immediate aid is expected to come from the United Arab Emirates, which on Monday pledged some $13.6 million in aid for Syria.

It is a signal of a kind of normalization at the level of the Arab League, comments Emmanuel Dupuy. What was obvious – Syria's return to the Arab League from which it was kicked out in 2011 – is a reality through humanitarian aid, he says.

In November, Arab leaders meeting in Algiers summit underlined the need for a collective and vital Arab role in efforts to end the civil war in Syria.

According to Emmanuel Dupuy, Syria could claim a return to grace because it is a victim of this earthquake.