A Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) convoy of 14 trucks entered northwest Syria today, arriving from Türkiye through the Hammam border crossing point. This first convoy carried 1,296 tents destined to families (of five people or more) left homeless by the earthquakes and 1,296 winter kits to insulate the tents from the cold. Other MSF convoys are planned to follow quickly to deliver medical and non-medical equipment.
However, an urgent increase in the volume of supplies is needed to match the scale of the humanitarian crisis.
MSF calls for the immediate scale up of assistance for the people affected by the earthquakes in northwest Syria, in order to address the new humanitarian needs adding to those already prevailing in the area.
In particular, priority should be given to supplying shelters and water and sanitation equipment, as well as the medical supplies necessary for post-operative care and to maintain continuity of care, amongst other items which are urgently needed.
We emptied our emergency stocks in three days, donating nearly 12 tons of surgical equipment, dressing and medicines to hospitals.Hakim Khaldi, head of mission for MSF in Syria.
In the 10 days following the earthquakes, the number of trucks that crossed the border into northwest Syria was lower than the average number for 2022. Present in the area for more than 10 years, MSF teams have been able to immediately launch an emergency response.
“We emptied our emergency stocks in three days, donating nearly 12 tons of surgical equipment, dressing and medicines to hospitals,” says Hakim Khaldi, head of mission for MSF in Syria. “Our teams provided support to the health facilities in the area until they were exhausted.
“But we did not see any help from the outside. Aid is trickling in in negligible amounts for the moment.”
Our teams identified enormous unmet needs in terms of relief. Access to accommodation and decent hygiene conditions are far from being granted, especially as the 180,000 people newly displaced by the 6 February earthquakes add to the two-million people displaced by 12 years of war and already living in precarious conditions.
MSF is currently providing relief and medical support to people living in five reception centres in northern Idlib. A mobile team provides healthcare and we distributed tents, water, bread, blankets, mattresses, and fire extinguishers. Activities aimed at ensuring the continuity of access to healthcare for both victims of the earthquakes and more generally are starting next week.
Humanitarian aid provided to the region through the cross-border mechanism has not even matched the pre-earthquakes average volume yet. According to UN data, five days after the earthquakes, only 10 trucks had entered Syria through Bab al-Hawa, a UN-coordinated border crossing point for humanitarian aid from neighbouring Türkiye.
As of 17 February, a total of 178 trucks loaded with aid provided by six UN agencies had crossed into northwest Syria through Bab Al-Hawa and Bab Al-Salama. In 2022, 7,566 trucks loaded with aid crossed from Türkiye into northwest Syria, which represents an average of 227 trucks for the same period of 11 days.
Furthermore, part of the 178 trucks that reached northwest Syria were not part of the earthquake response but rather already-planned deliveries. Even considering three days of border closure, the current volume of trucks is barely matching the humanitarian response before the disaster.
The border crossing of the MSF convoy was possible thanks to the support of Al Ameen, a Syrian NGO partnering with MSF. The delivery was arranged outside of the United Nations cross-border humanitarian mechanism coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO), which does not cover logistical equipment.