First MSF supply convoy enters Syria following earthquakes

The international medical humanitarian organization calls for the urgent scale-up of humanitarian supplies

MSF Shipment from Dubaï hub to Syria

United Arab Emirates 2023 © Ahmad Amer

NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 19, 2023—A Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) convoy of 14 trucks entered northwestern Syria today from Turkey, officially renamed Türkiye, carrying tents for families left homeless by the recent earthquake disaster and winter kits to insulate the tents from the cold. Other MSF convoys are planned to come through this Hammam border crossing point soon to deliver medical and non-medical equipment. An urgent increase in the volume of supplies is needed to match the scale of the humanitarian crisis, said MSF.

Present in northwestern Syria for more than 10 years, MSF teams were able to immediately launch an emergency response following the earthquakes, though supplies are running out. To make matters worse, the number of aid trucks that have crossed the border into northwestern Syria since the earthquakes is lower than the average number for 2022, further straining efforts to meet the enormous new and existing humanitarian needs.

“We emptied our emergency stocks in three days, donating nearly 12 tons [4,000 cubic meters] of surgical equipment, dressing, and medicines to hospitals,” said Hakim Khaldi, head of mission for MSF in Syria. “Our teams provided support to the health facilities in the area until they were exhausted. We did not see any help from the outside, and aid is trickling in in negligible amounts for the moment.”

People in northwestern Syria are in desperate need of shelter and proper water and sanitation services, especially as the 180,000 people displaced by the earthquakes join the more than two million people who were already displaced and living in precarious conditions after 12 years of war.

MSF is currently providing aid and medical support to the people living in five reception centers in northern Idlib, including through a mobile team that provides health care. Teams are also distributing tents, water, bread, blankets, mattresses, and fire extinguishers. Additional MSF activities to help ensure access to health care will start next week.

As of February 17, a total of 178 trucks loaded with aid provided by six UN agencies had crossed into northwestern Syria through the Bab Al-Hawa and Bab Al-Salama crossings since the earthquakes on February 6. In all of 2022, 7,566 trucks loaded with aid crossed from Türkiye into northwestern Syria, which represents an average of 227 trucks for the same period of 11 days. Furthermore, some of the 178 trucks that reached northwestern Syria following the earthquakes were not even part of the response but rather deliveries that had been planned before.

The border crossing of the MSF convoy was possible thanks to the support of Al Ameen, a Syrian NGO that is partnering with MSF. The delivery was arranged outside of the United Nations cross-border humanitarian mechanism coordinated by the World Health Organization, which does not cover logistical equipment. The convoy that arrived today included 1,296 tents and 1,296 winter kits.

Assistance must be immediately scaled up in northwestern Syria to address people’s new needs amid already dire humanitarian conditions in the region. Priority should be given to supplying shelters and water and sanitation equipment, as well as the medical supplies necessary for post-operative care and to maintain continuity of care.