Earthquake in Syria
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has opened an emergency appeal for people in northern Syria desperate for help following a series of devastating earthquake on 6 February. ACN is appealing for funds to support local Church partners helping those plunged into dire need by the natural disasters.
Aid the Church in Need has already mobilised over 770,000 AUD of immediate aid to Christians in Syria in the wake of the earthquake that killed more than 30,000 people in that country and in neighbouring Turkey.
The charity is working with project partners to firm up an emergency aid package with a focus on two key areas.
Firstly, it will support minor or major repairs in Aleppo which will allow those currently being sheltered by the Church to return soon to their homes. This includes repairs to heating and water systems as well as structural damage resulting from the quakes. ACN has already identified 600 homes which desperately require repairs. ACN will prioritise those which require structural repairs before the residents can return.
Second, it will be providing blankets, food and other essential aid for those who have been forced out of their homes by the natural disaster in Aleppo and Lattakia, where many of the inhabitants are IDPs who fled their homes during the country’s civil war.
This page will be updated as the response of ACN develops to meet the pressing needs of the people and the Church, which is already working to support the faithful.
Many cities and towns with a significant Christian population, such as Aleppo, Homs, Lattakia and Hama were badly affected and ACN has already confirmed that some Christians in these places were killed or wounded, although, for now, all its local staff and project partners have been accounted for and are well. The charity has received unconfirmed reports of deaths among Christian families in Aleppo and Lattakia and reports of injuries among Christians in Hama. The two worst hit areas, in terms of civilian casualties and Christians killed, are Lattakia and Aleppo.
One priest, Fr Emad Daher, died when the residence of the Archbishop Emeritus of the Melkite Greek Catholics in Aleppo, Jean-Clement Jeanbart, collapsed. Monsignor Jeanbart himself, a former project partner of ACN, narrowly escaped and is currently being treated for wounds in hospital, though said to be stable. Another Christian man who was in the building at the time also died.
There are also accounts of structural damage to some buildings such as at the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral of St. George, in Aleppo, the Franciscan Church in Lattakia and minor damage to the ACN-supported Hope Centre, also in Aleppo.
“The Church in Syria is shocked by the catastrophe. Even as far away as Beirut, people went down to the streets, worried that another explosion was about to unsettle their country. For now, the Church is checking on its people and families. All ACN staff in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus are doing fine. We are worried about Mgr. Jean-Clement Jeanbart, the former Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, whose building collapsed and who we have been told is now in hospital but recovering”, said Regina Lynch, director of projects for ACN International, who also called for prayers for all those who were killed, wounded or otherwise affected by the natural disaster.
The archbishop of Homs, Jean Abdo Arbach, has already commented on the earthquake, saying that the 30 seconds it lasted “completely changed the lives of thousands of people”.
“Let us hope the earthquake shakes open the hearts of the international communities and of all world leaders, so that they help Syria and do not forget the people who are suffering. The population is in a state of absolute despair and anguish. There are people wandering through the streets, not knowing where to go, and desperately searching for family and friends. Many people have died or are missing”, says the archbishop.
Pre-existing ACN projects on the ground are already providing the population with soup kitchens, support for the elderly, and medical aid. These include initiatives such as the "sharing the bread" project which provides isolated elderly members of the community with daily hot meals and company. Other projects help cover the costs of minor surgical operations and medication. As the situation in Syria unfolds, every one of these projects becomes even more necessary and justified.
To stay updated on the situation in Syria go here.
Please help our brothers and sisters in Syria!