"The whole world has failed us"

"The whole world has failed us"
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Survivors of the earthquake in northern Syria, still struggling with the lack of international aid, are trying to stand on their own two feet

A week after the devastating 7.7-magnitude earthquake, Syrians living in rebel-held areas in the north of the country are still on their own to pick up the pieces and move on, while the United Nations has acknowledged an international failure to help Syrian earthquake victims.

In Atareb on Sunday, survivors rummaged through the rubble of their homes, gathered the remains of their shattered lives and sought ways to recover from the latest in a series of humanitarian disasters in the war-torn area.

Dozens of newly displaced families gathered for hot meals from local volunteers and the local opposition-run government.

“We are licking our own wounds,” said Hekmat Hamoud, who had been displaced twice by Syria’s ongoing conflict before finding himself trapped for hours beneath rubble.

Abdel-Monem Qassem al-Razouq, who lost 13 relatives, including his sisters and nephews, comes to his destroyed house every day to mourn his loved ones:

"The whole world has failed the Syrian people. If this destruction had taken place in Europe or in any other country, the whole world would have rushed to save those who were killed. But here, no one cares about us. We were driven out of our homes. Nobody asked for us, we were bombed, barrel bombed, nobody cared about us. We do not buy anything from Turkey or from here (government side). We are surrounded."

Many people in the area have already been displaced by the ongoing conflict and are living in overcrowded tent settlements or in buildings damaged by earlier bombing. The quake killed more than 2,000 people in the enclave and displaced many more for the second time, forcing some to sleep under olive trees in freezing winter weather.

Visiting the Turkish-Syrian border on Sunday, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths acknowledged in a statement that Syrians have been left “looking for international help that hasn’t arrived.”

“We have so far failed the people in north-west Syria. They rightly feel abandoned,” he said. “My duty and our obligation is to correct this failure as fast as we can.”

Northwest Syria relies almost entirely on aid for survival, but post-quake international assistance has been slow to reach the area. The first U.N. convoy to reach the area from Turkey was on Thursday — three days after the earthquake.