UAE pledges $100 million in earthquake relief to Syria, Turkey

The United Arab Emirates Tuesday pledged $100 million to Syria and Turkey, one of the largest sums yet following a massive earthquake that killed more than 6,256 people across both countries.

The Gulf nation – which had already pledged some $13.6 million to Syria – is spearheading regional relief efforts, having dispatched planes to both countries with relief items and rescue teams following the 7.8-magnitude quake that struck early Monday.

On Tuesday, Emirati President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan “ordered the provision of $100 million for the relief of those affected,” the official WAM news agency said.

The sum would be equally split between Syria and Turkey, with each getting $50 million, according to the news agency.

It was not immediately clear if the funds for Syria included the $13.6 million previously announced.

Major General Saleh al-Ameri, commander of joint operations at the UAE’s defense ministry, said Tuesday that three military planes had been dispatched to Turkey, carrying search and rescue teams who have since commenced operations.

A total of seven flights are planned to the quake-hit countries, including two to the Syrian capital Damascus, he told local media.

Syria’s official SANA news agency said Tuesday that an Emirati plane carrying 10 tonnes of food supplies had arrived at the Damascus international airport.

The UAE reopened its embassy in the Syrian capital in December 2018, suggesting an effort to bring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime back into the Arab fold after years of boycott.

In March last year, Assad made a visit to the UAE – his first to an Arab state in more than a decade of brutal civil war.

Meanwhile, the death toll from a massive earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria rose above 6,200 on Tuesday, official data showed, with rescue workers still searching for trapped survivors.

Authorities said 4,544 people have died in Turkey and 1,712 in Syria, bringing the total to 6,256.

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