This Op-ed was originally published on The New Arab website
The Turkey-Syria earthquake on 6 February has so far killed over 40,000 people and displaced millions. The final total is likely to be much higher. Yet one week on, it is clear that the international response to the disaster has been a failure, revealing the limitations and contradictions of the global emergency response system.
As the dust settles and rescue efforts are wound up, anger has been building up in Syria, primarily directed at the delayed response of the international community to assist in immediate relief efforts, both in regime- and rebel-controlled areas.
The delay in response to the devastating earthquake is only the latest instance of the failure of the international system to deal with emergencies. It is hard to think of a single case of UN inaction in recent memory that has cost so many lives. As both Turkey and Syria begin to clear the rubble there is strong case for an independent international investigation into why the response has been so slow.
Analysts have already started to diagnose the issue, concluding that the UN and its relevant agencies have chosen, yet again, to stick to rigid bureaucracy rather than "come up with other creative solutions," such as utilising "smaller vehicles instead of big trucks, to better navigate roads and deliver aid without delays," which could have saved lives. This demonstrates a clear contrast between the UN's claim that it acts on behalf of humanity, and its operations that consistently prioritise bureaucratic procedures over lives.
Moreover, the slow and ineffective international response to the worst earthquake to hit the Levant in a century demonstrates that the multilateral system is not fit for purpose in emergencies as in conflicts.
Indeed, it took three days for the first aid convoy to enter northwest Syria while UN officials have admitted to failures in their response. Then, it took the United States a whole week to call a vote in United Nations Security Council to open new border crossings to deliver aid to Syria....
You can read the full op-ed on The New Arab