Syria agrees to open passages to rebel regions for aid delivery; deaths reach 37 thousand

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One week after the earthquake that killed more than 37,000 people in Syria and Turkey, the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad agreed this Monday (13) to the opening of border crossings with the neighboring country for the transport of humanitarian aid. to areas that are beyond the control of the regime.

The agreement was brokered by the United Nations, is valid for three months and reopens stretches of the border between the two countries, closed since 2011, when diplomatic relations were broken after the outbreak of civil war — the conflict led millions of Syrians to seek refuge in the Turkey.

Until then, the only access point to rebel-held areas in northeast Syria was the Bab al Hawa crossing, created in response to a UN resolution and defined by Damascus as a violation of Syrian sovereignty. In the next few days, two new corridors will be opened, according to the secretary general of the United Nations, the Portuguese António Guterres, who did not provide the precise date.

“Opening up these points will certainly allow aid to come in more quickly,” the UN chief said. “As the number of casualties rises, it is of utmost urgency to provide food, medicine, protection, winter clothing and other life-saving supplies.”

Earlier, Assad met in Damascus with Martin Griffiths, UN emergency aid coordinator. The dictator asked for more international aid to rebuild the regions destroyed by the earthquake. While several nations have sent teams for relief operations in also devastated Turkey, where the death count has surpassed 31,000, the same offer has not been seen on Syrian soil.

Syria has been isolated internationally since the start of the civil war sparked by violent repression of a popular uprising against the regime, a scenario that hampers efforts to bring aid to earthquake victims.

Several countries, including the US, UK, France, announced the donation of resources through humanitarian organizations, but without any dialogue with the regime. On Monday, in a note, Assad highlighted the “importance of international efforts” to help rebuild infrastructure.

In addition to talking with the dictator, Griffiths, the UN emergency aid coordinator, also met in Damascus with the head of Syrian diplomacy, Fayçal Moqdad. He also traveled to Aleppo, a city in the north of the country where the earthquake left more than 200,000 people homeless. In total, more than 5,700 people have died in Syria and 5.3 million people could be left homeless, according to the UN.

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