The United States on Thursday announced an initial $85 million package for emergency relief after a devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
The US Agency for International Development said that the funding will go to partners on the ground “to deliver urgently needed aid for millions of people” including through food, shelter and emergency health services.
The funding will also support safe drinking water and sanitation to prevent the outbreak of disease, USAID said in a statement.
The announcement comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier Thursday spoke by telephone with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to discuss the NATO ally’s needs.
“We are proud to join the global efforts to help Turkey just as Turkey has so often contributed its own humanitarian rescue experts to so many other countries in the past,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters as he described the call.
The United States has already sent rescue teams to Turkey and has contributed concrete breakers, generators, water purification systems and helicopters, officials said.
USAID said that rescue teams were focused on badly hit Adiyaman, seeking survivors with dogs, cameras and listening devices.
Following major damage to roads and bridges, the US military has sent Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters to transfer supplies, it said.
Assistance in Syria is going through local partners as the United States refuses to deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as Washington demands accountability over abuses during the brutal civil war.
An aid convoy earlier Thursday reached rebel-held northwestern Syria for the first time since the earthquake, going through the only open border crossing — Bab al-Hawa on the Turkish side.
Russia, the key international backer of Assad, has wielded its veto power at the UN Security Council to stop other crossings and authorize Bab al-Hawa only six months at a time as it tries to promote the sovereignty of the Damascus government.
“We call on the Assad regime to immediately allow aid in through all border crossings and to let humanitarians access all Syrians in need without exceptions,” Price said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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