Sanctions against Syria from the United States and European Union are preventing urgent aid from reaching those in need following the devastating earthquake, the country’s representative to the United Nations said Tuesday.
“Lots of the airplanes, cargo airplanes, refuse to land on Syrian airports, because of the American and European sanctions,” Bassam Sabbagh, Permanent Representative of Syria to the UN said in New York.
“So even those countries who want to send humanitarian assistance… they cannot use the airplane cargo because of the sanctions.”
Bassam added that search and rescue efforts were being impeded by the lack of aid, saying: “Of course the lack of equipment, the lack of capabilities in the government, it’s there, because of the situation and because of the sanctions.”
He appealed for all UN member countries to help.
“All Syria need this assistance, so whenever and whatever we receive, it will be for all Syrians,” he said.
Some context: Most of the casualties in Syria have been reported in the northwest of the country, predominantly in the cities of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartus, according to the state news agency, SANA.
This region was already struggling to rebuild vital infrastructure heavily damaged by continual aerial bombardment during the country’s civil war, which the UN estimates to have claimed 300,000 lives since 2011.
Half of northwestern Syria’s 4.6 million population have been forced out of their homes by the conflict, with 1.7 million now living in tents and refugee camps in the region, according to the UN children’s agency, UNICEF. Last year, the agency reported that 3.3 million Syrians in the area were food insecure.
Several parts of northwestern Syria, including Idlib, are still controlled by anti-government rebels.