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US announces $85 million aid for earthquake-ravaged Turkey and Syria

US issued an initial $85 million aid package on Thursday to assist Türkiye and Syria in their recovery from the terrible earthquake, as well as temporary removal from some Damascus-related sanctions.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck early Monday near the Turkish-Syrian border, and the death toll in both nations had surpassed 21,000 by Friday morning. The search continues, but the prospects of finding survivors are dwindling, according to AFP.

According to US Agency for International Development, the funds would be sent to partners on the ground “to deliver urgently needed help to millions of people,” including food, housing, and emergency health services. The financing will also help safe drinking water and sanitation to prevent illness outbreaks, according to a statement from USAID.

The statement comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone earlier Thursday with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu about the NATO ally’s requirements.

“We are happy to join the global efforts to assist Türkiye, just as Türkiye has so frequently offered its own humanitarian rescue professionals to so many other nations in the past,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said as he explained the call to reporters.

The Treasury Department later announced the temporary relaxation of some Syria-related restrictions in order to ensure that relief reaches people in need as soon as possible.

The move “authorizes for 180 days all transactions connected to earthquake relief that would otherwise be barred by the Syrian Sanctions Regulations,” according to a statement from the Department of State.

However, it claimed that US sanctions programmes “already include significant exemptions for humanitarian efforts.” According to officials, the US has sent rescue personnel to Türkiye as well as concrete breakers, generators, water purification equipment, and helicopters.

According to USAID, rescue crews were searching for survivors with dogs, cameras, and listening devices in Adiyaman, a city in southern Türkiye. US military has sent Black Hawk and Chinook aircraft to carry supplies after massive damage to roads and bridges, according to the report.

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