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U.S. House passes resolution to recognize Syria and Turkey earthquake victims

amata among members of congress
Amata part of group of 30 introducing the resolution with sponsor Rep. Wilson
Source: Uifa’atali Amata’a Washington D.C. office press release

Washington, DC — Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata is part of a bipartisan group of 30 House Members upon introduction last week of a Resolution (H. RES. 132) with sponsor Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) to recognize the thousands of victims and honor the responders following the devastating earthquakes and subsequent aftershocks that took place in Republic of Türkiye (Turkey) and Syria on February 6, 2023. The full House passed the Resolution on Monday.

As initial search and rescue operations come to a close, due to the length of time that has passed and limited chance of survival, those affected by the tragedy are not only contending with freezing winter weather conditions, but ongoing trembling, including the powerful quake on February 20. The United States continues to offer urgent, lifesaving humanitarian assistance to the victims of this tragedy, as well as mobilize Federal agencies, members of the Armed Forces, and partners, while also praising the tremendous outpouring of support from around the world.

Focus of the aid must be on the victims. However, those affected in Syria have also tragically had to not only face the impeded delivery of humanitarian assistance, but also the misappropriation of it, all at the hands of the tyrannical Assad regime. This resolution makes clear that an oversight mechanism must prevent humanitarian assistance from being diverted. It also rejects the regime’s lies that U.S. sanctions are to blame for any humanitarian suffering. These delays and deflections have unnecessarily cost lives and must not be allowed to continue.

In a joint statement, the 30 Members of Congress co-leading the Resolution said, “We mourn the more than 46,000 people whose lives have been lost and share our hearts with the thousands more injured and suffering. Untold others have experienced material loss as a result of this tragedy and are not forgotten. We stand with the people of Türkiye and Syria. The heroes who have worked tirelessly to rescue, treat, and comfort those affected by this tragedy must also be recognized and honored.  

They continue, “The United States remains steadfast in its support for the Syrian people, who have suffered for over a decade at the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers. In this desire to help, aid from the international community must go directly to the Syrian people to address urgent humanitarian needs. The shameless politicization, and theft, of humanitarian assistance by the Assad regime is despicable and is causing additional, unnecessary suffering. America stands strong with the people of Syria, and not with those who would take advantage of this horrible tragedy for their own selfish gain. We will continue to push for immediate assistance to those affected in Türkiye and Syria.”

Raed Al Saleh, Head of the Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, said, “In the immediate aftermath of the tragic earthquake, White Helmets volunteers saved 2,950 lives from under the rubble. The solidarity of members of the House and their constituents is important at this time when the people of northwest Syria feel forgotten. The task ahead is daunting and this new natural disaster has only added to the suffering of Syrians, who have undergone almost 12 years of brutal war and forced displacement by the Assad regime. As we work to alleviate the suffering of the people of northwest Syria, we urge Congress to keep its focus on Syria so that humanitarian needs can be met and we can continue to push for accountability for atrocities.”

Congressman Wilson introduced this Resolution with Chairman Michael McCaul (TX-10), and Representatives Aumua Amata Radewagen (American Samoa), Brendan Boyle (PA-02), Susan Wild (PA-07), Claudia Tenney (NY-24), Bill Pascrell Jr. (NJ-09), Pete Sessions (TX-17), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Rich McCormick (GA-06), Dan Kildee (MI-08), Carlos Giménez (FL-28), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), James Moylan (Guam), Brad Sherman (CA-32), Darrell Issa (CA-48), Haley Stevens (MI-11), Tom Kean Jr. (NJ-07), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Jake Ellzey (TX-06), Bill Keating (MA-09), Ralph Norman (SC-05), Lois Frankel (FL-22), Mike Lawler (NY-17), David Cicilline (RI-01), Mike Waltz (FL-06), Kathy Manning (NC-06), Brad Schneider (IL-10), William Timmons IV (SC-04), and Jimmy Panetta (CA-19).