Turkey-Syria earthquake: UK aid is now in Syria, according to a minister

Near the rebel-held town of Jinidayris, Syrians receive aid in a temporary shelter

According to development minister Andrew Mitchell, the UK is sending aid to Syria as he defended the government's response to the country's earthquakes.

Local rescue organizations have complained about the lack of international aid and the devastation brought on by the tremor in Syria.

As a result of the earthquakes, more than 28,000 people have now passed away in Turkey and Syria.

The UK had aided Syria "from the beginning," Mr. Mitchell told the BBC.

Speaking on the Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg program, Mr. Mitchell said that as part of the UK's response, firefighters were sent to Turkey and funding was provided for significant rescue operations in Syria.

He did admit that because Syria is an ungoverned space, it was "much more difficult than Turkey" to send aid there.

Aid has been delayed in reaching Syria, where protracted fighting has devastated regions of the nation that are still in the hands of rebels battling the sanctioned government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Following more than ten years of civil war, some rebel-held areas in northwest Syria are already hostile and inaccessible.

Currently, the UN is only permitted to enter Idlib province in northwest Syria via one route, which crosses the Turkish border.

Laura Kuenssberg questioned Mr. Mitchell about the US's announcement that "all transactions related to earthquake relief efforts" would be exempt from US sanctions against Syria for a period of 180 days.

In response to a question about whether the UK government would ease sanctions against Syria to expedite aid shipments, Mr. Mitchell stated that ministers would "do everything we can to ensure that aid gets through to people who are suffering.".

The minister stated, "Specifically here, where sanctions would hold us back in any way, we would seek to have them lifted. "But right now, we can get what we want through. And that's the crucial element.

Around 26 million people in Syria and Turkey, according to the World Health Organization, have been impacted by the earthquake. Up to 53 million people could have been displaced in Syria alone.

The UK government announced earlier this week that it was providing £8 million in support to Syria and Turkey, sending supplies like tents and blankets as well as a medical team.

The White Helmets, a volunteer organization that works in Turkey and parts of Syria, will also receive an additional £3 million in funding, according to the government.

A UK appeal to aid earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria has, in the meantime, raised nearly £53 million in its first two days, including a $5 million government donation.

Martin Griffiths, the head of the UN's humanitarian agency, claimed on Sunday that the international community had failed the people of northwest Syria.

They understandably feel abandoned. Looking for foreign assistance that hasn't shown up," Mr. Griffiths wrote on Twitter. "It's my responsibility and our responsibility to fix this mistake as soon as we can.

From the Turkish-Syrian border, where only a few aid convoys have entered the rebel-held territory since the catastrophe, he made the remarks.

Control map of Syria

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