After the earthquakes, war-hit Syrians struggle to get aid
The earthquakes displaced many in Syria for a second time, forcing some to sleep under olive groves in the winter.
After years of war, residents in northwest Syria affected by the massive earthquakes are grappling with their new and worsening reality.
One week after the devastating earthquakes struck northern Syria and neighbouring Turkey, the United Nations has acknowledged an international failure to help Syrian quake victims.
In Atareb, a town that Syrian rebels still hold after years of fighting government troops, survivors dug through the debris of their homes, picking up the remnants of their shattered lives and looking for ways to heal after the latest in a series of humanitarian disasters to hit the war-battered area.
Excavators lifted rubble and residents with shovels and picks destroyed columns to even out a demolished building.
Dozens of newly displaced families gathered for hot meals from local volunteers and the local opposition-run government. A citizen went tent to tent to give out wads of cash in a makeshift shelter – the equivalent of about $18 to each family.
Syrians were doing what they have honed over years of crises: relying on themselves to pick up the pieces and move on.
“We are licking our own wounds,” said Hekmat Hamoud, who had been displaced twice by Syria’s ongoing conflict before finding himself trapped for hours beneath the rubble.
Syria’s northwestern rebel-held enclave, where more than four million people have struggled to cope with ruthless air attacks and rampant poverty, was hit hard by the February 6 quakes.
Many in the area were already displaced from the ongoing conflict and lived in crowded tent settlements or buildings weakened by past bombings. The quake killed more than 2,000 people in the enclave, and displaced many more for a second time, forcing some to sleep under olive groves in the frigid winter weather.