BERLIN (Reuters) – German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Tuesday called on Russia to help pressure Syria into allowing humanitarian aid into the country for victims of Monday’s deadly earthquakes quickly and without additional obstacles.
“All international actors, including Russia, should exert their pressure on the Syrian regime to ensure humanitarian help for victims can arrive,” said Baerbock during a news conference in Berlin with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirsojan.
“It’s important that weapons are now set aside and all efforts in the region are focused on humanitarian aid and on recovering and protecting victims,” said Baerbock, adding that every minute counted.
With a confirmed death toll in Syria already above 1,600, rescue workers from across the frozen front lines of the country’s 12-year civil war have said that hundreds more people likely remain under the rubble.
Adelheid Marschang, a WHO Senior Emergency Officer, said on Tuesday that Syria was in need of massive humanitarian aid after the quake, which was “a crisis on top of multiple crises”.
Aid to Syria, with which Germany has no official relations, is being sent via international non-governmental organisations.
Baerbock announced that an additional million euros would be provided to the Malteser International aid group and that Germany was working to make more money available to other international non-governmental organisations in the country.
Turkey has been a major backer of the political and armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the civil war. Russia is a key ally of Assad.
(Reporting by Miranda Murray; Editing by Madeline Chambers and Nick Macfie)