Syria rescue workers face dire challenges in hope of finding survivors, IRC says

February 15, 2023
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Mina Aldroubi reports:

Rescue teams working in Syria to find survivors of last week's earthquake are facing difficulties with communication, safety and access to fuel and electricity, an official of the International Rescue Committee told The National on Tuesday.

The 7.8-magnitude quake struck the country and neighbouring Turkey last Monday, killing more than 37,000 people, at least 3,600 of them in Syria, according to government officials and emergency services in rebel areas.

Rescue operations are continuing, despite dwindling hopes of finding survivors. But Syria's long conflict and its effect on infrastructure are hampering efforts.

“When operating inside Syria, we are facing issues with line and mobile outages, undermining communication with staff,” Elias Abu Ata, spokesman for the International Rescue Committee, told The National.

“Some of our staff [are] losing their homes and working in temporary sites, including their cars,” Mr Abu Ata said.

One of the main challenges is access to fuel on the ground and many emergency team members are using their car engines to generate electricity to charge devices.

Some didn't make it. The IRC lost two of its workers in north-west Syria. Mohamed Shaabouk and Rowaida Glelate died tragically last week in their respective homes.

“They were committed and passionate individuals and were continuously focused on improving the lives of vulnerable people caught up in the Syrian crisis,” the IRC said in a statement.

Mr Abu Ata said at least one IRC field offices in northern Syria had been affected and "staff had been advised not to go back to buildings due to fear of aftershocks and the potential damage it may cause to some structures".

The IRC is also calling for wider access into Syria to provide relief for survivors.


Aid has been slow to reach Syria, where nearly 12 years of conflict have ravaged the healthcare system and parts of the country remain under the control of rebels battling against President Bashar Al Assad's government.

It was announced early on Tuesday that Mr Al Assad had agreed to allow UN aid deliveries to the opposition-held north-west, through two border crossings from Turkey, for three months.

“We use the same crossings [Bab Al Hawa] as the UN but we also transfer our assistance through commercial routes, which is why we need as much access as possible,” Mr Abu Ata said.


The first UN convoy going through Bab Al Hawa was last Thursday, comprising six lorries.

“We understand there are more convoys scheduled over the next few days,” Mr Abu Ata said. "We need those levels of aid coming in to scale up at pace."


Following the rescue operations, thousands of internally displaced people have moved across north-west Syria, with the majority of them making their way to neighbouring areas and staying in makeshift shelters vulnerable to aftershocks.

Many in areas of devastation are still without shelter, with more than 100,000 displaced families — and the numbers are increasing, Mr Abu Ata said.

“Displaced people are living in makeshift shelters or open air in sub-zero temperatures,” he said.

Clean drinking water, shelter, blankets and warm clothes are urgently needed, he added. is the official website of PT. WONDERLAND COCONUT, which is passionate about the export and import of coconut shell charcoal and its derivatives from Indonesia, in the form of activated carbon, hookah shisha, BBQ, tamarind wood charcoal, Sawdust charcoal and many more, you can see it on our product menu.

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