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Third Update on the Death Toll of Syrians Who Died As a Result of the Earthquake and Humanitarian Assistance Deficiencies, We Have Documented a Total of 10,024 Deaths, One-Third of Them Women and Children

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Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) revealed in a report released today that it has documented 10,024 deaths resulting from the earthquake that hit northwestern Syria and southern Turkey on the dawn of Monday, February 6, 2023, including 4,191 Syrians who died in non-regime areas, and 394 who died in regime-held areas, while 5,439 Syrian refugees died in Turkey.
The report explains that SNHR felt there was an imperative need to respond to the devastating earthquake and to document the massive number of Syrians who died due to the earthquake, and how the late arrival of humanitarian assistance may have led to the preventable deaths of more Syrians. As such, the group took it upon itself to undertake this onerous task that posed additional challenges despite SNHR team’s wealth of experience and network of members and trusted contacts spread across Syria.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, Executive Director of SNHR, says:
“We have expended all of this effort in order for relief organizations, especially UN bodies, to be able to access and utilize the lists of victims to compensate the victims’ families. However, this will not happen if relief aid keeps going to organizations that are designed to steal UN relief aid. We also cannot forget that the Syrian regime and its allies are responsible for displacing millions of Syrians to northwestern Syria. Not only have the Syrian regime and its allies cut off their access to water, electricity, and services, but they have also continued to target them in their bombing operations for years. It is simply inconceivable that after all of this, the Syrian regime will, with honesty and integrity, deliver aid to the very people it targeted.”
The report documents the death of 10,024 Syrians resulting from the earthquake and the late arrival of UN and international humanitarian assistance. These are distributed according to areas of control into: 4,191 Syrians who died in areas not controlled by the Syrian regime in northwestern Syria, 394 Syrians who died in regime-held areas, and 5,439 Syrian refugees who died in Turkey. The report also includes graphs illustrating the distribution of victims according to the location of their deaths in Syria, with others showing the distribution of the 5,439 Syrian refugees who died in Turkey according to their Syrian governorates of origin.
As the report reveals, northwestern Syria houses approximately 3.2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) from across Syria who fled the murderous brutality and multiple violations of the Syrian regime and its allies, namely Iran and Russia. Women and children account for approximately 75 percent of the total population of IDPs. Since 2011, no more than two percent of all IDPs have returned to their original areas despite these being located only a few kilometers away from the tents where they now live, simply because they are justifiably afraid of further violations by the Syrian regime which not only displaced them but has since carried out hundreds of deliberate attacks against civilians and vital infrastructure in the areas to which they fled. Furthermore, the report notes, international observers often turn a blind eye to the fact that the Syrian regime has deliberately cut off IDPs’ access to all basic services, including water and electricity, even while insisting that it should be the sole recipient and distributor of all UN humanitarian assistance due to its control of the Syrian state. The report adds that all of these reasons led to the establishment of the cross-border relief aid delivery mechanism without the need for obtaining the Syrian regime’s permission, and they still very much exist. The report stresses that SNHR has even documented Syrian regime attacks on areas that were affected by the earthquake shortly after it took place, which provide yet more harrowing demonstrations of the regime’s unparalleled brutality and viciousness.
The report also stresses that the overwhelming majority of the aid provided to help ease Syrians’ suffering, as much as 90 percent of the total, does not reach those affected for whom it is intended, as confirmed by the vast number of authoritative investigations, studies and reports published by various international bodies since 2015, including by humanitarian groups such as the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and newspapers such as The Guardian. This is because the Syrian regime has coordinated and engineered the theft of relief aid in an orchestrated and calculated manner that relies on its being distributed through official organizations which are, in reality, completely subservient to the regime, the most notable of which are: the Syria Trust for Development, the Civil Defense, and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. One of the most obvious indicators strongly implying that these organizations steal vast quantities of aid is the fact that none of them release financial transparency reports. There is no way to discover the amount of funding these organizations receive, or how and where these funds are spent. These organizations also do not disclose any information about their managerial or organizational hierarchy and employ individuals with close ties to the Syrian regime and to the heads of its security agencies.
The report further stresses that the provision of humanitarian assistance, which is a noble endeavor, should not be debased by its being turned into a means of funding and supporting a regime involved in crimes against humanity against its people. The report adds that it is impossible to rely on the same entity that caused the displacement of millions of IDPs, abandoned its responsibilities to them, and bombed their camps and the areas to which they fled, i.e., the Syrian regime, to deliver UN humanitarian assistance and compensate victims and their families.
The report calls on the UN and the donor states to establish an international support platform to handle the coordination of humanitarian assistance in northwestern Syria, which would be an alternative channel to the UN. The report also recommends that relief aid sent to those Syrian relief organizations which have demonstrated their honesty and integrity should be increased both in quantity and quality, especially in the form of providing shelter, focusing particularly on meeting the needs of women and children, in addition to making other recommendations.

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