By Latheef Farook
Ten days after the Monday 6 February 2023 devastating earth quakes in Turkey and Syria death toll reached 41,000. However no one knows the exact number perished. Ahvaz, a global campaign network, warned “it is doomsday in Turkey and Syria”.
Every hour is critical for rescue efforts — but while a massive rescue operation is underway in Turkey… in war-torn Syria it’s a totally different situation. Hearts of the world especially the United States led European champions of human rights and freedom failed to melt.
Turkish President Recap Taya Erdogan said “The earthquake, the biggest-ever calamity not only in our country’s history but in the history of the entire world, has caused colossal damage.
However scientist warned of these earthquakes but the government of Turkey ignored these warnings.
Aid started pouring into Turkey while it was rather slow in Syria. The first United Nations aid convoy entered Syria ten days after the earth quake-enough to time to virtually kill the victims buried under the rubble which the loved ones continued to dig with their bare hands. Leave alone help Asad tried to politicize the aid causing immense hardship to earth quake victims.
Syrian earthquake took place in the area where the people rose up during the 2011 Arab Uprising against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, better known as the butcher of Damascus, who turned Syria into a slaughterhouse. Northwest Syria has been a war zone, undergoing an economic crisis and now devastated by an earthquake. And despite the conflict, the poverty, the natural disaster, still they were not getting enough aid into Syria.
The Syrian government which was reported to have bombed earth quake hit areas ruled out allowing aid to travel directly to rebel-controlled areas while thousands are at risk of freezing to death.
Added to it the US and European Union imposed stringent sanctions on Syria following Arab Spring protests in 2011. However despite the magnitude of the crisis and human misery the US and Europe refused to lift the sanctions aggravating the sufferings of earth quake victims in the Syrian side.
Hamza Barhameyeh, a spokesperson for World Vision, told that while food insecurity was a big concern, the bigger crisis facing many aid agencies was the freezing temperatures that had gripped the region. “Thousands of Syrians sleep outside after they left their homes behind, fearing more collapsed buildings and aftershocks.
Commenting on this British journalist David Hearst said Europe, with billions for war, shows its true heartless face” that Britain offered $2.7bn in arms to Ukraine and $6m in disaster relief for 23 million people in Turkey and Syria? Is this for real? Apparently yes
But just three days into this disaster, the tragedy is slipping from the headlines in Europe, Turkey’s immediate neighbor. This week, the earthquake was displaced by Ukrainian President Zelensky’s visit to Britain and Brussels.
Columnist Jonathan Cook said in Syria, the West’s humanitarian claims crumble to dust. The US said it wanted to free Syrians from a tyrant. Then it was willing to let them die.
US President Joe Biden’s administration finally lifted sanctions on Syria after four days of shocking footage from the disaster zone in southern Turkey and northern Syria. The West has been punishing Syrians for living under a government they did not elect but one the US is determined to bring down at all costs. The West’s supposed humanitarian instincts can only really be understood by digging deeper. Much deeper.
Helping Ukrainians by arming them with tanks and jets, while depriving Syrians of bare essentials, aren’t positions quite as opposed as they first appear. The inconsistency doesn’t even qualify as a double standard, viewed from western capitals.
On Monday, Beirut-based group representing Catholic, Orthodox, and Coptic Christians in the region, called for the lifting of sanctions against Syria. Meanwhile by Thursday 9 February aid agencies started warning of a looming humanitarian catastrophe in northwest Syria after earthquake halted the flow of critical UN aid from Turkey to rebel-held areas.
Othman Mobil of Action for Humanity, the parent charity of Syria Relief said if words from governments put shelter over heads, food in mouths and pulled bodies from rubble – this emergency response would be over by now.
Doctors in northwest Syria say they don’t have the resources or necessary equipment to address the severity of the injuries endured by survivors.
“We’ve spent the past five days working long hours without getting any sleep or rest to save the injured,” Dry Ahmed Grandeur, the director of the Al-Rahman Hospital in the city of Darkish in Adlib province, told Middle East Eye. He said his hospital was flooded with so many dead and wounded that the few medical staff that worked here were forced to make impossible decisions due to a lack of resources.
In a shameful development, within a day of the disaster, the French satirical magazine Charlie Hobo published a cartoon showing a damaged building, a toppled car and a heap of rubble with the caption: “No need to send tanks.”
Truckloads of donations destined for earthquake victims in Turkiye were set on fire by arsonists at a Turkish supermarket near Dortmund, western Germany. The arsonists were also filmed pulling down a Turkish flag which they threw into the blaze, which caused around $21,500 in damage.
In the German city of Recklinghausen arsonists broke into a supermarket where clothes had been stored for earthquake victims in Turkiye and Syria, provided and collected by volunteers. The arsonists then burnt the clothes, which were estimated to be worth thousands of dollars.
This is the civilized Europe?
Disclaimer: US -European indifference towards
Worst ever human tragedy in Turkey and Syria - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view