Human rights must be at centre of Syria, Turkey earthquake response, Amnesty urges

Human rights must be at centre of Syria, Turkey earthquake response, Amnesty urges
Amnesty International has urged authorities in Turkey and Syria to respect human rights as humanitarian efforts continue for the victims of the 6 February earthquake.
2 min read
24 February, 2023
The earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northwest Syria has made millions of people homeless [Getty]

Amnesty International on Thursday urged Turkish and Syrian authorities to place human rights at the centre of their response to the recent earthquake that devastated the neighbouring countries.

In a briefing published on its website, the rights group raised concerns on nine rights issues relating to the crisis response, including non-discrimination, treatment of refugees, military operations and freedom of information.

"The provision of aid in dire situations of natural disaster must be applied without discrimination of any kind, including on the basis of nationality, ethnicity, religion, migration status, and political views," Amnesty said.

"A human rights approach to disaster response can facilitate the fair and effective provision of humanitarian assistance and hold governments to account regarding their compliance with international human rights standards, including the principle of non-discrimination."

The briefing highlights the Syrian regime's continued blocking and delaying of aid to rebel-held areas of northwestern Syria, where some four million people live in conditions created by more than a decade of war.

While the regime has hampered aid access to opposition areas, Turkish-backed rebel groups have prevented aid from reaching areas held by Kurdish militias.

Earthquake survivors in northwest Syria have told The New Arab of their experiences of discrimination in aid distribution, with some reporting that militias had raided their homes in the chaos that ensued after the disaster.

The Amnesty briefing highlighted the growing animosity towards Syrian refugees in Turkey, who have been scapegoated by politicians and blamed for the country's economic struggles.

The rights watchdog urged authorities not to fuel anti-refugee sentiment and said it is their responsibility to actively challenge the scapegoating of Syrians.

Amnesty also criticised the Syrian regime's continued bombardment of opposition-held areas of northern Syria that are still reeling from the effects of the earthquake.

It urged both Syria and Turkey to cease military operations in the area as humanitarian efforts continue.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northern Syria on 6 February killed more than 49,000 people and has left millions homeless