Antiochian Patriarchate’s comprehensive aid to earthquake victims

Syria, February 9, 2023

Photo: Antiochian Patriarchate Photo: Antiochian Patriarchate     

The Antiochian Patriarchate immediately leaped into action following the two devastating earthquakes that shook Turkey and Syria on Monday.

The Church’s relief service, GOPA-DERD, has busy identifying needs and gathering and distributing food, clothing, bedding, and other necessities.

The Patriarchate published an update on its humanitarian efforts yesterday:

In continuation of the emergency response efforts, assuming the relief role and social responsibility, and with the close follow-up of His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, GOPA-DERD continues to work on the ground to reduce the effects of the earthquake disaster. In Hama, the team carried out a field visit to the ‘youth union’ hall’s sheltering center, carrying out a quick response to the needs of the affected families by distributing food kits, and securing diapers and baby milk for some of the families in the center, in addition to purchasing and installing lighting requirements for the hall.

GOPA-DERD’s team also visited the National Hospital in Suqaylabiyah and provided affected persons with medicine in meeting the growing needs following the earthquake disaster. More so, the team conducted an inspection visit of the damaged homes evacuated by its owners in this area, in preparation for providing the required assistance as soon as possible.

In response to the current circumstances, GOPA-DERD’s team gathered in Wadi al-Nasara area alongside some of the families, to gather in-kind assistance from both parties at their own expense, that amounted to more than 1,500 kits. It included mattresses, sheets, blankets, clothes and shoes, sorting it according to age and gender. This is sent to be distributed to those affected by the team in Hama.

In Latakia, GOPA-DERD team distributed food items including: Medicines, detergents, batteries and led lights, to meet the needs of the affected families in the shelter center in Basnada, in addition to meals distributed to families at Joud mosque.

The team also distributed food kits in two hospitals, and provided crutches and a wheelchair for specific cases.

More aid was provided for affected families located in the ‘sports city’ and a beach resort in the area that welcomed those families. Distributions included water and detergents, in addition to distributing ready-to-eat meals for the families gathered at one of the city’s roundabouts and the ‘hitin’ club, and for workers of Latakia Fire Brigade. The team also prepared food and distributed it to the families in the shelters in Haffeh area as well as distributing diapers.

In Aleppo, GOPA-DERD’s team continued to secure basic supplies to affected families who have arrived to the halls of St. Elias Church, as well as distributing meals and family kits to those in the shelters in the areas of Bustan Al-Basha, Al-Halak and Suleiman Al-Halabi.

GOPA-DERD’s engineering team in Aleppo continues field visits to homes of affected families to provide t hem with assistance by repairing cracks and fissures caused by the earthquake.

OrthoChristian previously reported on how to donate to relief efforts here and here.

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Pfmd2/9/2023 11:30 pm
"We are grateful for the rapid response of the Russian government. President Putin is in constant contact with President Assad. The main issues of sending aid, both search and rescue and humanitarian aid, were negotiated by them personally," Speaking about the reluctance of the United States and western countries to lift at least partially blocking sanctions against Syria and provide assistance to the affected country, the ambassador noted: The issue of sanctions is just a pretext, which indicates a high degree of politicization of the humanitarian issue for western countries. Damascus has been saying this for years in the UN Security Council: few people listened to us. Now everyone can see for themselves. It is as if we Syrians do not exist for them. There is no politics here, only a certain level of humanity, says Bashaar al-Jaffari, Syria’s Ambassador to Russia. US embargo sanctions, the so-called "Caesar's Law," have had a paralyzing effect on the supply of large equipment to Syria, he concluded.
Pfmd2/9/2023 11:13 pm
Russian soldiers and rescuers are reportedly assisting in search-and-rescue operations and debris removal in Syria. Russian military and rescue workers continue to work not only in Latakia, but also in other Syrian provinces affected by the earthquake. In the next two days, two Russian cargo planes carrying humanitarian aid will arrive at Latakia airport. Minister of Local Administration and Environment Hussein Makhlouf confirmed that Russian troops and rescuers are participating in search-and-rescue operations and debris removal in the country. The Syrian government has praised Russia's response to the deadly earthquake in the country. "A group of Russian soldiers and rescuers pulled out a large number of people, thanks to their competent work we were able to save the lives of even those who had been under the rubble for more than 48 hours," he explained. He also drew attention to Russian efforts in the town of Jableh, where "a large number of houses were destroyed. Russian rescuers are working together with their Syrian colleagues. The victims rescued by the Russian team are being sent to the National Hospital in Latakia: most of them have already been stabilized," the minister said.
Pfmd2/9/2023 11:09 pm
Humanitarian groups, such as the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the US-based Arab American-Anti-Discrimination Committee, have implored US officials to drop the sanctions following Monday’s quakes, which rocked Syria and Türkiye and killed thousands in both countries. More than 8,500 lost their lives in Türkiye, with some 50,000 wounded, while at least 1,260 died in Syria in addition to 2,300 injured. Many residents are now trapped under collapsed buildings, creating an urgent need for timely relief, though humanitarian orgs say US sanctions have only made the job more difficult. “The evacuation process and rescue operations are restricted due to obstacles resulting from the severe sanctions. We have shortages in heavy machines and equipment is needed to lift the rubble,” said SARC president Khaled Hboubati, adding that US sanctions are creating the greatest obstructions for relief efforts. US refuses to assist Syria after devastating earthquakes. Washington has outright refused to consider halting the economic penalties, with the State Department insisting such a move would be “counterproductive” while claiming the Syrian government has “brutalized” its own citizens during its decade-long struggle against armed jihadist groups seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
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