A woman has brought Aberystwyth’s Syrian community together to raise money for desperate earthquake victims in her home nation amid aid blockages.

Town resident of six years Latifa Najjar - who runs the Syrian Dinner Project charity - lives with her husband, Ahmed Sultan, and their three children in South Road.

More than 4,300 people in Syria have been killed after last week's earthquakes and, due to the beleaguered state’s 12-year-long civil war, aid and supplies have been largely blocked from reaching the rebel-controlled west of the nation to help rescue victims.

Charities say homes, hospitals and infrastructure have been devastated in a country where, even before the earthquake, more than three million people did not have enough to eat.

Mrs Najjar is staging a fundraising event with Syrian food on offer at the Morlan Centre, Queen’s Road, tomorrow (Wednesday, 15 February).

Her family are from the rebel-controlled Idlib province near the Turkish border which is already enduring a chronic humanitarian crisis.

The international community has been highly critical of efforts to secure aid for the people in the north western region, with a UN aid chief suggesting the area had been ‘failed’.

Mrs Najjar told the Cambrian News: “I woke up and saw the news on social media and was heartbroken. I immediately called my friends to ask them whether they are safe.

“They said all the buildings had fallen down and they were in the street – and some people are still inside, including my friends.

“People are saying it is like a bad dream – and they can’t believe what has happened.

Latifa helps run the Syrian Dinner Project charity
Latifa helps run the Syrian Dinner Project charity (Syrian Dinner Project)

“Suddenly everything has fallen down and we have been at war for 12 years – and already we don’t have enough hospitals, medical supplies nor any electricity or petrol.

“Only food deliveries have made it across the border – no medical or machines to rescue people.

“And after five days it may already be too late. We can’t do anything other than try to raise money for them.

“There are not enough homes for the displaced in Syria and people aren’t allowed to go to certain areas.

“The north of Syria and Idlib needs help. It is very important. For many it will be too late.

“Help them! They only have each other. They need medical support and help finding homes.

“Lots of people have died and lots of children are now without families.”

A dam near Idlib has also burst causing floods and further damage to villagers near where Mrs Najjar’s family lived.

Donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal have now reached £2 million in Wales, with the contributions across the UK reaching £65.8million since the appeal was launched on Thursday. The total amount includes £5 million matched by the UK Government through the UK Aid Match scheme and a £300,000 Welsh Government donation.

One week after the devastating earthquake struck, many charities are now finally delivering vital aid to north-west Syria despite challenges with access and active conflict.

In the north-west of the country near the Turkish border, an area not under the control of the Syrian government, at least 57 hospitals have been partially damaged or have suspended their services. Banks are closed leaving people unable to access cash to pay for food and other everyday items.

DEC charities, which have been operating in Syria for more than a decade, are assisting directly with local staff and through local partners, by distributing hot meals, emergency tents and winter kits. They are also supporting hospitals and other health care services.

More than 50 aid trucks from five UN agencies were transferred to north-west Syria as of Sunday (12 February).

DEC director of programmes and accountability Madara Hettiarachchi said: “After 12 years of conflict, people in Syria were already struggling to cope on a daily basis, with a shortage of resources and damaged infrastructure including water supplies and healthcare. The earthquake has made a desperate situation even worse."