Opinion: The International Community is Failing Syria During the Earthquakes


Nuha Maflahi, Reporter

Last Monday, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, collapsing 3,000 buildings, and killing 33,000 people with that death toll slowly rising. As soon as the earthquake hit countries rushed to send aid to Turkey, to start pulling people out of the rubble. Countries like the UK, the US, Italy, Spain, France, and the EU have sent aid to Turkey, sending search and rescue personnel to treat survivors and rescue people. While the aid that Turkey has been sending is important and countries should continue to send aid Syria has been left behind even though they’re the country that probably needs it the most.

Syria was in dire conditions even before the earthquakes hit last Monday. Syria is in one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. A war between rebels and the Syrian government has been going on in the country for 10 years. It has devastated the region, from innocent people dying from the airstrikes to the famine that has impacted 12 million people living there. With all the death, destruction, and starvation that has been ravaging the country, it didn’t seem like things could get any worse. That was until the earthquakes hit. Just when it looked like things couldn’t get any worse for the Syrian people, one of the worst disasters of the century hit, leaving 6,000 people dead and thousands more homeless. 

The worst part about the disaster is seeing Turkey get so much aid while Syria gets almost nothing. It has been said by government officials that getting aid to Turkey is difficult because almost all the routes that humanitarian aid personnel use was cut off in 2020 by Russia. Russia who has been supporting the Syrian government in the civil war cut off most of the U.N. aid routes to Syria, claiming that the routes undermined the Syrian government’s authority. Those restrictions alone already make getting relief to aid difficult, but America has made it even more difficult by setting sanctions on Syria, making it almost impossible to send any resources to Syria. Legislation was passed in 2019 called the Caesar Act. It was an act that imposed heavy sanctions on Syria’s government and slows down the process of getting resources to Syria. While the Caesar Act was put in place as punishment for war crimes that the Syrian government has committed, there’s no denying that this is punishing the civilians too, who are living in a country that is falling apart. 

The lack of aid Syria is receiving is partly Russia’s and America’s fault, but also the fault of every other country that sent help to Turkey and didn’t do the same for Syria. While the U.S. sanctions have stopped many resources from getting into Syria, the sanctions don’t keep Syria from receiving humanitarian aid. It can be argued that countries may not have known that humanitarian aid to Syria isn’t sanctioned but now that it is clear that they can send humanitarian aid there’s no excuse for countries to not help. Donations have been pouring in for Turkey while not even half of the $328 million goal from UNICEF has been met for Syrians. Syrian civilians have been begging for help since the earthquake hit and the current president of Syria has also agreed on two more additional routes to Syria for humanitarian aid to be sent, so there is no excuse for anyone to not be sending aid. Syrian people have been suffering for far too long and government officials have always claimed how sad the situation is. However, now that they’ve been given a chance to help Syria in their most desperate time, they don’t want to do anything. No matter what a government says, when disaster hits, they will always show their true colours.