HUMANITARIAN crisis triggered by the deadliest earthquake in Turkiye and Syria is deepening as the toll in both countries from Monday’s earthquake and major aftershocks rose above 33,000 and looked set to keep growing. The gravity of the situation can be gauged by the fact that the UN aid chief Martin Griffiths has acknowledged “we have so far failed the people in north-west Syria”.
The enormity of the natural disaster is such that so far the rescue operation is not over as rescue teams is still busy detecting signs of remaining life under the debris and distribution of aid has become a major challenge because of chilling weather, destruction of infrastructure, activation of criminal gangs and administrative issues in reaching out to the affected areas, especially in Syria.
According to a UN spokesperson, in Syria, aid from government-held regions into territory controlled by hard-line opposition groups has been held up by approval issues with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) group which controls much of the region. In Turkiye, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is continuously in the field to oversee rescue and relief efforts and has vowed to redouble efforts for rebuilding of the damaged regions.
However, the scale and magnitude of the disaster calls for greater cooperation from the international community to carry out the gigantic task in line with the ground realities. Pakistan promptly sent aid and rescue/relief teams consisting of personnel of the Pakistan Army that are rendering a great job. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif convened a special meeting on Sunday to review activities in connection with raising donations and dispatch of much-needed relief items both to Turkiye and Syria. Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal has been assigned the task of mobilizing support of educational institutions and religious circles for the purpose. We hope that other members of the global community would also extend generous assistance to mitigate sufferings of the affected people on a priority basis.