News 16 Feb 2023

Syria: Testimonies from Aleppo

Following the devastating earthquakes on 6 February,  ACN has reached out to our project partners in Syria. Here's what they have to say.

The following testimonies were gathered by our colleagues on the ground on the evening of the quakes. 

Carla Audo - Hope Center

"On 6th of February, just before sunrise our country woke up to the massive tremors, of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey and shook all the region of Syria, mainly Latakia, Idleb and especially Aleppo, which was hit the hardest among Syrian cities.   

It took only seconds for people to rush into the streets, under the pouring rain and in the freezing cold weather. And it was even before the second earthquake, when the sound of the bells of many churches have broken the silent suffering of the people, comforting them and announcing opening their doors to the faithful to find refuge and a shelter the churches' hall.

Paralyzed with fear, and shivering from the bitter winter weather, hundreds of people flocked to these church shelters with nothing more than the clothes they had on. And hours went by and aftershocks kept on hitting strong slowly the hope of returning to their normal life has vanished. 

They do not know if their barely holding houses, which have already sustained heavy damage over the course of the 12 years conflict, will get thorough the devastating earthquakes that have so far injured 1448 people and killed 764 (expecting the death toll to increase up to 8 folds) as the discovery the new victims buried in the rubbles. 

Today we mourn all the victims, and we remember in particular the beloved Father Imad Daher, who died under the rubble of the collapsed building in the Aziziyah district, which is among the 52 destroyed buildings so far in Aleppo. 

We pray for their souls to rest in eternal piece and we pray for their families to find solace and consolation and we ask you also to unite with us in your raising your prayers to the Lord.

We encourage you to pray also for the 2500 Christians in over 15 church shelters, that are still facing the unknown, battling fear, harsh winter cold and lack of food, sleep and sanitary conditions, and also for the people and churches who are working day and night to provide meals and blankets and mattresses for the vulnerable whom lives are irreversibly changed after the deadly earthquakes."

Sr. Anne Marie Gagnon - Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition

Sister Anne Marie is the director of St. Louis's Hospital, the main Catholic hospital in Aleppo. ACN assisted this hospital with a generator project in 2021

"In Aleppo, many apartment buildings have fallen; there are many dead and injured. On top of that it is raining and very cold. At our hospital, there is a part that looks as though it may fall: the stones have moved and we are afraid they will move. There are also some families who have asked to stay here overnight, but mostly we are focused on providing free care for the people who are injured right now. It is a catastrophe: first a war, then COVID, then sanctions … and now an earthquake. The people are so poor: they don’t have money to eat, or mazout, or grain. We need to stop the sanctions.

People are now asking at the churches and convents, and with us at the hospital, if they can stay there until the crisis passes. Many buildings have fissures in them, and the people who are on the fourth or the fifth floor, are afraid to stay there. We have put some mattresses on the ground for our personnel so they can stay here.

We have operated just now on two people with injuries. We have a Christian family in the hospital whose family members have died in the earthquake. We are now awaiting the arrival of the priest who died, Fr. Daher. 

We ask our benefactors to pray for us and especially to pray for the sanctions to be removed. They need to talk to the powers in Europe to stop these sanctions."

Sr. Arlene - Carmelite Sisters, Aleppo

ACN has previously done a solar panel project with these Carmelite Sisters.

"The families are afraid and they do not want to return to their houses; they are looking for a place to spend the night. We have had five families come to us, and we are sheltering them. Other families are going to the schools or churches. Perhaps if the night is okay they will return home, but there is damage in their homes. Tonight, as a congregation we are praying for peace. The people here they are shocked: they are not talking so much. There were so many who were injured or died."


Aid to the Church in Need Australia has launched a prayer appeal for the victims of the earthquakes. Please join us in praying for our brothers and sisters in Syria!

To learn more and make an offering please go here

Featured image: blanket and mattress support to churches in Aleppo, Syria. Credit: Hope Center in Aleppo

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