Netherlands to give Syria €10 mil in aid; Defense employee lost 14 relatives in quakes
The Netherlands will contribute 10 million euros to emergency aid for earthquake victims in Syria, Minister Liesje Schreinemacher for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation announced. The Ministry of Defense reported that one of its employees lost 14 family members in the quakes that rocked Turkey and Syria on Monday. “As the number of deaths rises, colleagues at Defense have also received sad news about the fate of relatives in the affected area,” the Ministry of Defense said. The death toll has reached 11,000, of which 2,530 have been reported in Syria.
According to Schreinemacher, aid in Syria is complicated because aid workers themselves have also been affected by the earthquakes, and there are no longer any diplomatic ties with the country. Syria has asked for help. “We all see the penetrating images on television and the death toll increasing by the hour,” said Minister Schreinemacher. “Turkey is getting help from all sides, but we really shouldn’t forget about Syria.” She agrees with requests that come from aid organizations and is open to expanding the support later.
The money will primarily go to United Nations funds that provide tents, blankets, food, and water, the Ministry reported. Three million euros will go to Dutch aid organizations united in the Dutch Relief Alliance. The money is in addition to money spent on the Dutch search and rescue team USAR that is working in Turkey.
The USAR team is doing “really important work” inTurkey and has also saved lives, said Schreinemacher. For now, the government has no plans to send USAR teams to Syria. The organization only takes action at the request of the government in the country itself, and the Syrian government has not asked for that.
Just before Schreinemacher’s announcement, the Syrian authorities asked the European Union for help. The European Commission urged countries to grant this request, and the Netherlands is open to it. The Minister also said she was open to supplying equipment to help get people out of the rubble. She stressed that such aid is possible, despite the sanctions against the Syrian regime. According to her, there is no question of sanctions being lifted.
Earlier on Wednesday, Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren told Goedemorgen Nederland that she “would welcome” sending emergency aid to Syria and hopes agreements can be made about this at the UN. She said that sending support like the USAR to Syria is “very difficult because of the security situation and the non-existent contacts what the regime.”
She also referred to the sanctions against Syria, which has been torn apart by civil war for years. But “humanitarian aid is above all else,” Ollongren said.
Missing Dutch man found; Seven still missing
A Dutchman previously reported missing in Turkey to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has restored contact with his family. The number of Dutch reported missing after the earthquake now stands at seven.
The Ministry does not yet have much information about the man but is ready to provide consular assistance if needed. There is still no confirmation from the Turkish authorities about whether any Dutch people died or got hurt in the quakes.
Reporting by ANP