Aid is arriving gradually as  earthquake toll in Turkey and Syria approaches 24,000
 Aid is arriving gradually as  earthquake toll in Turkey and Syria approaches 24,000

Damascus: On Saturday, international aid began to trickle into regions of Turkey and Syria as rescuers laboured to extricate kids from the rubble in areas devastated by a powerful earthquake that has killed over 24,000 people.

The affected areas experienced a winter freeze, which hindered rescue efforts and added to the suffering of millions of people, many of whom were in urgent need of assistance.

The UN warned that after the earthquake, which has left up to 5.3 million people homeless in Syria alone, at least 870,000 people in the two countries urgently needed food.

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Aftershocks from Monday's 7.8-magnitude earthquake have increased the number of fatalities and further disrupted the lives of survivors.

Fidan Turan, a pensioner in Turkiye's southern city of Antakya, said, "I can't imagine where I'll be tomorrow. It's not that I can't see where I will be in two or three years — I can't even imagine where I'll be today. Our extended family has lost 60 members, she said. “Sixty! How shall I put it? God has ordained it.

In order to provide food rations to at least 590,000 newly displaced people in Turkey and 284,000 in Syria, the United Nations World Food Programme made an appeal for $77 million. It said that out of those, 45,000 were refugees and 545,000 were internally displaced people.

The affected region is home to Syrian rebels and Kurdish militants, and the UN rights office on Friday pleaded with all parties to permit humanitarian access.
The outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, which Ankara and its Western allies regard as a terrorist organisation, declared a temporary cessation of hostilities to facilitate relief efforts.
Four million people in rebel-held northwest Syria depend on humanitarian aid, but there haven't been any deliveries in three weeks from government-controlled areas.
The Syrian government claimed to have given the go-ahead for the distribution of aid to earthquake-stricken regions outside of its jurisdiction.

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Only two aid convoys from Turkiye, where authorities are conducting an even larger earthquake relief operation of their own, have crossed the border this week.

Hospitals had already been destroyed, and there had been electricity and water shortages due to a decade of civil war and aerial bombardment by Syria and Russia. The Security Council was urged by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to approve the opening of new humanitarian aid crossing points between Turkey and Syria. The council will meet to talk about Syria, perhaps early the following week.

Two new routes into the Syrian regions controlled by rebels are being developed, according to Turkiye. Numerous people have been forced to spend their nights in their cars due to the winter freeze or to gather around makeshift fires that have proliferated throughout the earthquake-affected area.

After five days of sorrow and agony, anger at the subpar construction and the Turkish government's handling of the country's worst disaster in nearly a century has gradually grown. 12,141 buildings were either completely destroyed or severely damaged, according to local officials.

The odds of being discovered alive are slim because, according to Mustafa Erdik, a professor at Istanbul's Bogazici University, "the floors are piling on top of each other." A contractor who was trying to leave the country after his building was destroyed in the devastating earthquake was apprehended by police on Friday.

The tremor was the strongest and deadliest since a 7.8-magnitude tremor in 1939 that killed 33,000 people. 20,665 deaths were reported in Turkey and 3,553 in Syria, according to officials and medical personnel. The current confirmed total is 24,218. As a result of growing resentment over how the Turkish government handled the catastrophe, the tone of the country's presidential election campaign has changed in advance of the June elections.

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According to Hakan Tanriverdi of the province of Adiyaman, "People who didn't die from the earthquake were left to die in the cold." For the first time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged on Friday that his country was unable to reach and assist the victims "as quickly as we had desired."

24 Cypriot children between the ages of 11 and 14 who were in Turkiye for a volleyball tournament when the earthquake swallowed their hotel were among the worst casualties. Ten of their bodies were returned to northern Cyprus, where they were born. According to Turkish media, at least 19 members of the group—including 15 accompanying adults—have now been officially ruled dead.

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