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Switzerland urges UN action on quake-hit Syria

aid trucks waiting to cross into Syria
There is currently only one UN-authorised crossing point between Turkey and Syria for aid into Syria. Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Switzerland is calling for a UN Security Council briefing early next week on aid to quake-hit Syria, as hope fades for finding many more survivors in the rubble.

The UN wants additional crossing points for aid between Turkey and Syria. Switzerland, which is a member of the Security Council in 2023- 24, is co-responsible for negotiations.

“It has asked the Maltese presidency of the Council to convene a briefing as soon as possible,” said Swiss foreign affairs ministry spokesman Nicolas Bideau on Friday. The briefing requested is by Martin Griffiths, head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), who is due to visit the region this weekend. Switzerland is in close contact with humanitarian actors on the ground as well as with OCHA, according to Bideau.

The Syrian government said on Friday it would authorise delivery of international aid to quake-hit rebel-held areas in the north of the conflict-torn county, provided they were overseen by the Syrian Red Crescent.

The President of the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mirjana Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, arrived in Syria on Thursday night. Speaking in Alep, she said it was difficult to convey the level of “loss, suffering and destruction”.

Swiss pull baby from Turkey rubble

The death toll from Monday’s massive earthquakes in parts of Turkey and Syria has now risen to 22,300. More than 100 hours after the quake, Swiss rescue workers on Friday pulled two more people alive from the rubble in Hatay, southern Turkey – a mother and baby. This brings to 39 the total number pulled out alive this week by Swiss rescue workers, which they describe as a “miracle”.

A second team of Swiss humanitarian workers left for Turkey on Friday. And an appeal by Swiss Solidarity, the humanitarian arm of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation – swissinfo.ch’s parent company – has now raised more than CHF10 million ($10.8 million) in donations to support victims of the earthquakes. 

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