‘Political mess’ is stopping aid getting to quake victims, says Islander living in Syria

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AN Islander living in war-torn Syria has spoken about the ‘political mess’ which has led to some groups refusing to let aid pass through territory they control to affected areas following the recent earthquake which devastated the region.

Alex Pearce (34), a former Victoria College student, lives in the northern Syrian town of Qamishlo – 200 miles east of the earthquake’s epicentre. The quake has left more than 18,000 dead in Turkey and Syria.

Mr Pearce, a volunteer who is currently doing media work, described the damage in Qamishlo as ‘minor’, adding that people in the town assumed that the earthquake was the start of a new war.

Mr Pearce said: ‘It [the earthquake] woke me up in the night, then we felt it again in the afternoon.

‘There has been minor damage in the city that we are in. People are so use that. A lot of people just got in their cars and left and went back to their villages. Some people lived in their cars for a few days.

‘Because of the civil wars, previous invasions and because some groups have reformed with the ideology of ISIS, it’s really difficult to get aid to some of the affected areas.

‘There is a whole political mess with who can help versus who should help,’ added Mr Pearce.

Mr Pearce said that disputes over territory between Turkey and Syria, had led to the delivery of aid being frustrated to some cases.

‘Borders can close at a day’s notice for, say, six weeks. Out of UN-designated crossing points there is now only one crossing point into the north-west regions of Syria. From Turkey into Idlib [in Syria] is the only designated crossing, the situation is really bad,’ he said.

‘I hate to politicise it, but it is so clear how politicised it is. Basically, this group doesn’t like this group so now aid can’t get through.’

Aid group Kurdish Red Crescent is among the organisations which Mr Pearce is in contact with for discussing an aid response.

According to Mr Pearce the administration which governs Qamishlo, known as AANES, had sent ten large trucks carrying diesel to the town of Idlib in Syria on Wednesday evening as part of their aid response.

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