TWO weeks to the day since a violent earthquake in parts of Turkey and Syria killed more than 47,000 people (News, 10 February), two more have struck the region and terrified survivors.
More buildings collapsed, and at least eight people died and many more were injured in the latest tremors on Monday, although, when so much of the area had already been destroyed, casualty figures were lower than they might have been. Some of the injuries were caused by stampedes of those trying to flee, a spokesperson for Syria’s Civil Defence said.
ACT Alliance, a global alliance of faith-based organisations, has pledged more than $5.5 million for survivors of the earthquake. Member Churches in the region are offering shelter to those left homeless, and others are contributing essential items to the temporary shelters where thousands are living after losing their homes.
“The humanitarian situation in the region before the earthquake was very poor, with around two million people already internally displaced,” George Majaj, of ACT Alliance, said. “Now, due to the disaster, many more people are facing another displacement. They live in informal camps and tents, and they lack basic services. Before the earthquake, there was a lack of funding for Syria and limited media attention.” He said that partner charities were also providing safe spaces for child survivors of the earthquake.
AlamyChildren next to the rubble of their collapsed homes in the Syrian town of Jenderis, near Aleppo, on TuesdayAs of Monday, £93 million had been raised by the Disasters Emergency Committee’s UK appeal. The committee’s chief executive, Saleh Saeed, said: “We’ve seen faith communities spring into action to support survivors, both in the UK and in the earthquake zone. In the UK, millions of pounds have been raised, and we know this support is already saving lives.
“Earthquakes do not discriminate between countries or people’s beliefs. Across the areas affected, places of worship have opened their doors to those in need, regardless of faith or nationality, to provide shelter, food, water, and warm clothing.”
Tearfund is providing shelter and food to 2000 people in Aleppo. The charity’s chief executive, Nigel Harris, said that the Syrian Orthodox Church had opened up its buildings. He urged people in the UK to pray and donate.
Approximately seven million children are thought to be suffering trauma and bereavement as a result of the earthquake, and to be at risk of exploitation. World Vision has child-protection teams on the ground.
World Vision’s chief executive, Mark Sheard, said: “We urge people of faith to please keep Syria and Turkey in your prayers; we stand before God and lament with those who have lost loved ones or homes, and ask God to resource those delivering critical humanitarian aid to people in desperate need.”
The Benefact Trust has given £250,000 from its crisis response grants to British Red Cross and World Vision, to support their work in the area.