The United Nations chief launched a $397 million appeal Tuesday to help nearly 5 million survivors of last week’s devastating earthquake in rebel-held northwest Syria who have received very little assistance because of deep divisions exacerbated by the country’s 12-year war.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the appeal a day after he welcomed an agreement between the U.N. and Syrian President Bashar Assad to open two new crossing points from Turkey for an initial period of three months, AP reports.

The U.N. has only been allowed to deliver aid to the northwest Idlib area through a single crossing at Bab Al-Hawa — at Syrian ally Russia’s insistence. Since the quake, the U.N. says 84 trucks have gone through Bab Al-Hawa.

Guterres said the devastation from the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that ravaged southern Turkey and northwestern Syria on Feb. 6 “is one of the worst in recent memory,” and “we all know that lifesaving aid has not been getting in at the speed and scale needed.”

© Copyright LaPresse