Syrian recalls earthquake horrors and says area has had no western aid

Earthquake: Man rescued from rubble in Salqin, Syria

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Thousands of Syrian families who feel abandoned by the rest of the world have been left living on the streets as freezing temperatures follow on from the earthquake. Viktor, a doctor from Aleppo in northern Syria told that children are living in parks, mosques and schools in need of basics such as nappies, clothes and milk.

The doctor, who personally knows several people who died in the earthquake, said his city has received some help from its neighbours but nothing yet from European countries or the US.

Viktor blames US trade sanctions on Syria, despite the White House recently stating US sanctions “will not stand in the way of life-saving efforts for the Syrian people”.

He added that his city remains helpless while Turkey has “received a lot more”.

The doctor, who was woken up at 4.18 am by the quake last Monday (February 6), said the disaster was more “terrifying” than a decade of the piercing sound of missiles land around his city.

“We were shocked and didn’t know what to do… so, we went downstairs with all the neighbours. Then at 1:30 pm, another strong earthquake hit us so we evacuated to a nearby school to avoid surrounding buildings and trees,” he said.

He said his brother’s friend and his friend’s mother died, as well as one of his father’s friends and a local priest.

Viktor’s house was luckily left “slightly damaged” after the quake but he said his family live in “fear” that it will collapse during the night.

He said: “We have no plans… We are afraid of something happening at night, so we are not sleeping well.

“Some engineers are looking at the cracks. If they find the building has a lot of cracks, we will evacuate to another place and the building will be brought down… a home gone, just like that.”

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United Nations official Martin Griffiths has admitted his organisation has “failed the people of north-west Syria” who are relying on foreign aid.

Mr Griffiths, the under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said the Syrians were “looking for international help that hasn’t arrived”.

He added: “They rightly feel abandoned”.

Viktor, who didn’t want his full name publishing, said most of the support he has seen has been coming from local humanitarian groups working directly with his country’s government.

Until yesterday, there was only one crossing open between Turkey and Syria – making it difficult for the country to receive supplies.

The United Nations yesterday launched an appeal for both government and non-government areas to receive aid. It said President Assad had agreed to open two new crossings from Turkey to the country’s rebel-held northwest.

The UK Government has raised £60 million worth of aid to support both Syria and Turkey: giving them tents, blankets and medics. The money will be spread among UK aid organisations such as the Red Cross, Islamic Relief and Save the Children.

It has also confirmed it would give additional funding to the White Helmets humanitarian group, which has been rescuing Syrians in rebel-held areas from the rubble.

Viktor, in government held Aleppo, pointed out that the White Helmets only work in areas of Syria that “haven’t been liberated by the government”.

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