UN, Syrian government implicated in Syria aid failures after quake – commission

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GENEVA, March 13 (Reuters) – The United Nations, the Syrian government and other actors are responsible for delays in getting emergency aid to Syrians after last month’s earthquake, a U.N.-appointed commission of inquiry said on Monday.

The allegations add to a growing chorus of criticism of the global body for its role in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake that killed some 6,000 people in Syria, mostly in the rebel-held northwest near the Turkish border.

“Though there were many acts of heroism amid the suffering, we also witnessed a wholesale failure by the Government and the international community, including the United Nations, to rapidly direct life-saving support to Syrians in the most dire need,” said Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the commission, in a statement.

The parties involved also failed to agree on a pause in hostilities and to allow life-saving aid through any available route, leaving Syrians feeling “abandoned and neglected by those supposed to protect them, in the most desperate of times,” it said.

Syria’s information ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A U.N. humanitarian office (OCHA) spokesperson did not immediately provide a comment since the report was not yet public when asked.

The body has previously said that it does not have search and rescue capabilities and that the decision to send them rests solely with the national government.

Syria’s government says humanitarian aid should go via territory under its control, although supplies to the northwest are allowed across the border from neighbouring Turkey under a U.N. Security Council agreement.

People walk past the dome of Maland mosque over the rubble of the structure that fell in the earthquake in Maland, Idlib, . According to the villagers, the Maland mosque fell in the first earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on 06 February. The mosque was the only one serving the people of the village, and since the destruction worshippers continue to hold communal prayers in open area next to the destroyed mosque. More than 50,000 people died and thousands more were injured after major earthquakes struck southern Turkey and northern Syria on 06 February and again on 20 February. EPA-EFE/YAHYA NEMAH

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