The earthquake in northwestern Syria - a natural and political disaster

Regine Schwab points to the failure of the international community in her PRIF blog

In her new blog article "A political natural disaster in northwestern Syria - the earthquake and the failure of the international community" (Original in German: Eine politische Naturkatastrophe in Nordwestsyrien – das Erdbeben und das Versagen der internationalen Gemeinschaft) TraCe member Dr Regine Schwab discusses the lack of international humanitarian aid in northwestern Syria after the massive earthquake as a political failure.

The affected Syrian region was already in a desolate situation before the earthquake on February 6, 2023. The consequences of the civil war, bombardments, the COVID pandemic, and a cholera outbreak strained the infrastructure and the health system. Initial humanitarian aid did not arrive in the region until the 4th day after the quake and did not include earthquake-specific equipment.

As such, Regine Schwab argues in her article, humanitarian aid is far from neutral and has been politicized by the Assad regime since the beginning of the conflict in Syria. Furthermore, the earthquake shows a massive failure of the UN, which is acting too slowly and inflexibly. Overall, there is a danger "that other actors could learn from Syria's and Russia's behavior and that humanitarian aid as a whole will suffer lasting damage."