Before the quake hit, the United Nations was already struggling to gather funding to address Syria’s worsening humanitarian situation
After a visit to quake-hit Syria, the WHO chief said on Wednesday he was “disturbed and heartbroken,” urging that available funding and new border crossings were still not enough to help victims in the rebel-held northwest region.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization (WHO), made the remarks after visiting a hospital in the area, where more than 4,000 have died as a result of last month’s devastating earthquake.
Following the disaster, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad allowed the opening of two more crossings with Turkey to allow aid into the region held by his armed opponents. However, more access and funding were still needed, Ghebreyesus said.
“I don’t think the existing [three crossings] will be enough. Any available access should be used,” he told reporters in Syria.
He said he did not discuss with local authorities the possibility of aid coming in across front lines from government-held areas. Other UN agencies and international aid groups have criticized hardline rebels for rejecting such deliveries.
Before the quake hit, the United Nations was already struggling to gather funding to address Syria’s worsening humanitarian situation, having secured just half of its 2022 appeal. It said it would need nearly $400 million by June to sufficiently help those affected in Syria.
The opposition-controlled zone in Syria’s northwest is home to some four million people, many of them displaced by conflict. Hospitals there are in particularly dire conditions, having been hit by air strikes over the years and facing chronic shortages of equipment.