On February 6, an enormous earthquake shook the Turkish-Syrian border area in particular, but also had an impact far beyond. The overall situation is still unclear, but it is certain that there are many thousands of dead and injured, further thousands face nothing, because their homes are destroyed.
The Evangelical Church in Syria is involved in the relief effort, providing shelter, food and blankets. People who had fled to the streets before the earthquake found shelter in the rooms of the Armenian Evangelical Church and a school of the Evangelical Church. Many families are among those affected, the snowfall and freezing temperatures are a great challenge, reports our partner "Gustav Adolf Werk", which has been in close contact with the people there for many years.
Pastor Enno Haaks is the general secretary of the Gustav-Adolf-Werk e. V. and spoke with the helpers on site.
What do the pastors there report? How are the churches helping?
I spoke on the phone last night with Pastor Haroutune Selimian of the Armenian Evangelical Church in Aleppo. The situation is catastrophic. People have come to church full of fear, he said. There is a medical center at the Bethel Church. There they treat the injured, collect and distribute food and blankets. They are also trying to house people who have lost their homes in churches and schools. Selimian told me they survived the war and will survive this, too. But they need help.
And in Latakia?
Pastor Salam Hanna of the National Evangelical Synod in Syria and Lebanon described to me that they have felt two earthquakes and ten aftershocks. In addition, there is rain and cold weather. They said the situation is unstable and terrible. They have also taken in families in the church and provided them with tea and fruit, since all the stores are closed. Joseph Kassab, the General Secretary of the National Evangelical Synod emailed us that entire villages have been destroyed. He wrote, "Of all the disasters that have befallen us, this is the one for which we were not prepared.
What is needed most urgently?
People need mattresses, blankets and diesel oil for electricity and heat in the cold winter. We are sending initial relief funds to Beirut in Lebanon. The big question at the moment is: How do we get the aid into Syria? That is not easy under the war conditions.
The German Clothing Foundation is deeply affected by the events. Currently, it is difficult to get clothing donations into Turkey and via Turkey to Syria. In order to be able to quickly address the most pressing problems, the foundation therefore initially made 10,000 euros available as emergency aid. At the same time, it is preparing to stock aid transports with textiles if necessary.
You can help! Support our emergency aid now with your financial donation. In this way, we can jointly support the helpers on site. More funds are still needed. Pack a parcel with good clothing in the next few days and send it to us. In the current unclear situation we cannot promise that your clothes can be brought to the earthquake area. But at the Deutsche Kleiderstiftung your clothes are in good hands, will either help directly in one of our international projects or will be offered in our charity stores to finance the aid.
In Aleppo alone, 1,300 people have died. Thousands of homes are at risk. Meanwhile, the municipality is starting to evaluate the buildings in the city to see if they are at risk of collapse. More and more houses are being closed and declared uninhabitable. This is causing difficulties and is hard to bear for the families affected. Rev. Selimian said that this will bring more people to his church. There they have refuge and are taken care of.