The first UN team arrived in opposition-held northwest Syria on Tuesday, eight days after two massive earthquakes that destroyed homes and killed at least 35,000 people in Turkey and Syria.

As hopes of finding survivors buried under the rubble more than a week after the magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes fade, the focus has shifted to providing food and shelter for the vast numbers of survivors.

But activists and emergency teams in northwestern Syria have denounced the UN’s slow response to the earthquake in opposition-controlled areas, contrasting it with the airlift of humanitarian aid to government-controlled airports.

“I don’t want to sit here and make excuses, but I wanted to share that we are all in the same place together,” Sanjana Kwazi, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Turkey, told reporters. opposition-held city of Sarmada.

Fears have grown for survivors on both sides of the border, with the UN saying more than seven million children have been affected between Syria and Turkey and noting fears that “many thousands” have died.

“It is tragically clear that the number of children will continue to rise,” said James Elder, a spokesman for the UN children’s agency UNICEF, adding that the final toll would be “staggering.”

The confirmed death toll from the quake is 35,662 as officials and medics said 31,974 people died in Turkey and at least 3,688 in Syria.

The counter has barely changed in Syria for several days and was expected to rise.

Sanitary risks

The mental stress of the catastrophe was accompanied by the brutal realities of survival in cities reduced to ruins in the midst of winter frost.

In Turkey’s Kahramanmaras, huge crowds depended on the only toilet still functioning in the central mosque.

“There are no toilets, toilets must be in tents,” says Hysne Düz, 53, who has been living with thousands of others in a tent city for the past week.

“Every day I walk five kilometers to go to the toilet here. We cannot find another place,” Erdal Lale, 44, told Agence France-Prese (AFP).

The acrid smell of smoke from hundreds of fires that people started to keep warm has permeated much of the disaster area in Turkey.

“We need to take a shower. So there is a need for clothes washing machines,” Duz said.

Aid to Syria

In the devastated Turkish city of Antakya, an AFP reporter said cleanup crews cleared rubble and installed basic toilets as telephone networks began to rebuild in parts of the city.

AFP teams reported that food and other relief items were flowing into the city as well as Kahramanmarash.

But getting help in neighboring Syria, already torn apart by 12 years of civil war, is of particular concern.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in isolation and under Western sanctions, has called for international assistance to rebuild infrastructure in the country.

A Saudi plane carrying humanitarian aid has landed in the second city of Aleppo, the first in more than a decade of war in Syria, a transport ministry spokesman told AFP. Two more batches are expected this week.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday that Assad had agreed to open two more border crossings from Turkey to northwestern Syria to let aid through.

Prior to the earthquake, almost all critical humanitarian aid for more than four million people living in rebel-held areas in northwestern Syria had been delivered through just one checkpoint.

Earthquake aid reaches Syria through new checkpoint

According to the United Nations, a convoy carrying humanitarian aid from Turkey on Tuesday crossed opposition-held territory in northern Syria through a newly opened crossing, the first through Bab el-Salaam since last week’s earthquake.

An AFP correspondent at the crossing confirmed that the UN convoy had entered. At the same time, Paul Dillon, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, told AFP in Geneva that “11 trucks” had entered through the “newly opened border of Bab el Salam.” .”

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Eddie Hudson is an Entertainment News Reporter and Fashion Stylist. Graduated with a degree in Television Production from Howard University. He is an award-winning entertainment news reporter at 24PalNews and credits his upbringing and passion for helping others as the foundation for his success.

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