US announces $85 mn aid, sanctions relief for quake-hit Turkiye, Syria
The United States on Thursday announced an initial $85 million aid package to help Turkey and Syria recover from the devastating earthquake, while also granting a temporary relief of some Damascus-related sanctions.
The 7.8-magnitude quake struck early on Monday near the border between Turkey and Syria, and by Friday morning, 21,000 people had died in both countries. Despite ongoing efforts to search, there are fewer chances of finding survivors.
The funding, according to the US Agency for International Development, will be distributed to local partners “to deliver urgently needed aid for millions of people,” including emergency health services, housing, and food.
USAID said in a statement that the funding will also support sanitation and safe drinking water to prevent disease outbreaks.
The announcement follows a telephone conversation that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier on Thursday to discuss the requirements of the NATO ally.
As he described the call, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters, “We are proud to join the global efforts to help Turkey just as Turkey has so often contributed its own humanitarian rescue experts to so many other countries in the past.”
In an effort to expedite the delivery of aid to those impacted, the Treasury Department later announced a temporary lifting of some sanctions related to Syria.
The department stated in a statement that the move “authorizes for 180 days all transactions related to earthquake relief that would be otherwise prohibited by the Syrian Sanctions Regulations.”
However, it stated that the sanctions programs of the United States “already include robust exemptions for humanitarian efforts.”
According to officials on Thursday, the United States has sent rescue teams to Turkey and contributed concrete breakers, generators, water purification systems, and helicopters.
According to USAID, rescue teams were concentrating their efforts on the city of Adiyaman, which is in the southeast of Turkey and had been severely damaged. They were searching for survivors using dogs, cameras, and listening devices.
It said that the US military has sent Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters to move supplies because of significant damage to bridges and roads.
As a result of the United States’ refusal to do business with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Washington demands accountability for violations committed during the bloody civil war. As a result, aid in Syria is being provided through local partners.
We ask the Assad regime to allow aid to pass through all border crossings right away. allow aid to be distributed to all affected regions; Blinken made the remarks in a statement on Thursday evening, adding, “and to permit humanitarians to access all people in need in Syria, without exception.”
The only open border crossing, Bab al-Hawa on the Turkish side, was used by an aid convoy to reach rebel-held northwestern Syria for the first time since the earthquake.
In an effort to promote the Damascus government’s sovereignty, Russia, the main international supporter of Assad, has used its veto power at the UN Security Council to prevent additional crossings and only authorize Bab al-Hawa for six months at a time.
In Turkey and Syria, the death toll from the earthquake on Monday was over 21,000 as of Friday morning.