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Turkey-Syria earthquakes: Tiniest survivors in rebel-held northern Syria wait for help slowed by civil war

Turkey-Syria earthquakes: Tiniest survivors in rebel-held northern Syria wait for help slowed by civil war
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Harem, Syria — Five-year-old Jinan was lying in a hospital bed, afraid and in pain. Doctors said her leg would need to be amputated. She became a symbol of the cruelty of the deadly earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria after a video of her trapped under rubble with her baby brother Abdullah went viral.

“Please,” the young girl pleaded with rescuers, “get me out of here.”

Jinan was being treated in a hospital in Syria’s rebel-held, quake-battered northern province of Idlib. Abdullah was cared for in the bed next to her.  Their mother, father, brothers and sisters did not survive the earthquake.  

Five-year-old Jinan lays in a hospital bed at the Harem City Hospital in Syria’s rebel-held, earthquake-ravaged northern province of Idlib, Feb. 14, 2023.

CBS News

Umm Abdullah, their aunt, was with the children in the hospital.

“My heart is burning,” she told CBS News, turning away to cry.

Idlib’s Harem City Hospital has been left straining under the weight of so many patients with so much need.

Doctor Hassan Jolaiq told us that 1,500 people were treated for wounds at the facility in the first day after the earthquakes. The death toll from the two huge temblors that struck within nine hours on Feb. 6 had surpassed 41,000 by Wednesday across southern Turkey and northern Syria. 

We asked Jolaiq if he had the resources he needed to treat the quake victims.

“The world has definitely forgotten us,” he said. “We haven’t received aid in a very long time.”

Turkey-Syria earthquake survivors living in tents in sub-zero temperatures as death toll rises


The quakes brought down hundreds of buildings across rebel-held northern Syria. The need for help is tremendous, but little aid has reached the region, and survivors have grown increasingly desperate.

That desperation is tangled up in the fault-lines of Syria’s 12-year civil war.
President Bashar al-Assad wants to maintain control of all supply routes into the country, but world leaders don’t want to legitimize a regime they’ve sanctioned heavily during the war.

Complex geopolitics continued to impede help reaching seriously injured victims, including little Bayan, who was being visited by her cousin at the hospital in Harem.
Her older sister Fatima was in the bed next to her with an injured leg. Their aunt, Umm Hassan, told us their mother died in the quake.

“We haven’t told them about their mother yet,” she said. “They keep saying I’m hiding something from them. But I don’t have the heart to tell them she’s dead.”

Fatima, at right, lays in a hospital bed in Harem, in Syria’s northwest Idlib province, where she was being treated for injuries she sustained in the Feb. 6 earthquakes that she still did not know had killed her mother, Feb. 14, 2023. In the other bed is her sister Bayan, who was also injured, and their cousin.

CBS News

The United Nations estimates that 2.5 million Syrian children have been affected by the earthquakes and are in desperate need of basics, including clean drinking water and shelter.

Assad agreed on Monday to open two additional border crossings into northern Syria from Turkey to expedite the flow of humanitarian relief. The U.N. lauded the move, but as of Wednesday only one U.N. relief convoy of 11 trucks had arrived in Syria.

Another relief convoy, assembled by Arab tribal leaders, crossed the border from government-held territory into the rebel-held quake zone on Wednesday. But the flow of aid was still a trickle, not the tsunami desperately needed by thousands of earthquake survivors, including the youngest.

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