Earthquake in Syria
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is running 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.
Immediately after the disastrous earthquake of February 6th this year ACN set up an emergency relief program including
- First response aid to secure food, medicine, blankets
- Second phase to restore damaged houses
- Third phase to restore damaged church property
These measures are flanked with spiritual and psychological programmes for trauma healing. We have only approved one project for a summer camp with special focus on psychological support so far, but all the summer camps ACN supports in Syria this year will help Syrian children and youth to cope with the extreme circumstances they live in.
As of May 10th, 21 projects for a total of 1.7 million AUD have been approved. 3 further projects for reconstruction are in the process of approval.
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!