Dendias: "Greece is trying to help Syria, human suffering has no sanctions"

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias made it clear that Greece will do everything it can to help the people of Syria, who have been suffering immensely by Monday's deadly earthquake.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has contacted the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and the United Nations, as announced by the head of Greek diplomacy.

In a video message on Twitter, Nikos Dendias wrote:

"Apart from Turkey, to which Greece has expressed its grief and offered assistance, the earthquake has also affected Syria, which regardless of sanctions against the regime, Greece is trying to help.

"Human suffering has no borders, it faces no sanctions."

Greece announced on Wednesday that it was sending a humanitarian aid mission to Syria. The relevant request to the European Civil Protection Mechanism was activated by Damascus after several days delay.

According to information from the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection - in response to some criticisms that have been made regarding the fact that aid was sent to Turkey and not to Syria - Greece already started preparations on Tuesday for the organisation of the mission to Syria.

However, as clarified, Greece could not proceed with this move as it is necessary to activate the request for assistance from the country affected by the disaster, in this case, Syria.

As noted by an agent of the Ministry on the specific issue in AMNA, the European Civil Protection Mechanism is the channel through which EU member states can channel humanitarian aid in a coordinated and efficient manner to affected areas.

After the submission of the request by Syria, Greece is proceeding at a fast pace in sending aid, in cooperation and coordination with our European partners.

The aid consists of sending medicines, tents and general supplies for the support and care of people who have been left homeless and need immediate assistance, according to the request activated by Syria.

Syria has activated the EU civil protection mechanism two days after the earthquake, the European Commission’s head of crisis management Janez Lenarcic said on Wednesday.

“Earlier today, this morning, we have received a request from the government of Syria for assistance through the civil protection mechanism,” Reuters reports Lenarcic told the media.

Lenarcic said member states are encouraged to contribute with assistance as requested.

In October 2001, the European Commission established the EU civil protection mechanism. When an emergency overwhelms the response capabilities of a country in Europe and beyond, it can request assistance from the programme.

In addition to the 27 EU member states, there are currently eight other participating states (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, and Turkey). The European Commission’s website say that since its inception, the mechanism has responded to over 600 requests for assistance inside and outside the EU.

Speaking in Hatay province, close to the epicentre of the quakes, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said the number of people confirmed dead in Turkey had increased to 9,057, Reuters reports.

Syrian officials and a rescue group in rebel-held north-west Syria have said the death toll there has reached 2,662, bringing the combined tally to 11,719.

The president also condemned criticism of the government’s rescue effort, condemned by many in the country as slow and inadequate.

“This is a time for unity, solidarity. In a period like this, I cannot stomach people conducting negative campaigns for political interest,” Erdoğan said, adding that it was not possible to be prepared for such a disaster.

Turkish police have detained at least 18 people and arrested five after what were described as “provocative posts” on social media about Turkey’s earthquake, according to a tweet from the force.

Earlier, the NetBlocks internet monitoring service said Twitter was being restricted “on multiple internet providers in Turkey”, adding that Turkey had “an extensive history of social media restrictions during national emergencies and safety incidents”.

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