Media release, 07 February 2023

HEKS provides emergency aid for those affected by the earthquake in Syria

The violent earthquake on the Turkish-Syrian border has brought destruction and suffering to the local people. HEKS/EPER has been present in the affected areas in northern Syria for years, working with local partner churches. These were able to launch the first urgent emergency aid measures just a few hours after the disaster. HEKS’s first step is providing humanitarian aid worth 1 million Swiss francs.

In the early morning of 6 February, a violent earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria. According to a first preliminary assessment, more than 4000 people have died and 15'000 have been injured, while thousands of buildings have collapsed. The situation is particularly concerning in Syria, which is already facing a protracted humanitarian crisis after almost twelve years of conflict. The ongoing sanctions and the lack of reconstruction assistance from the international community have led to many buildings becoming unstable and the infrastructure collapsing. The economy is in ruins, the power supply is insufficient, a cholera outbreak has ravaged the area for months and many Syrians are suffering from hunger. Now many people’s homes are no longer habitable, leaving them without shelter in the cold of winter.

Hilfe spenden für Opfer des Erdbebens in Syrien

Emergency aid has started in Aleppo and Kessab

HEKS/EPER has been supporting internally displaced persons and other vulnerable groups in the affected areas in northern Syria for several years through local partner churches. These were able to initiate the first emergency aid measures in the immediate aftermath of the disaster for families who had lost their homes in the earthquake or were afraid to return to their damaged buildings. In Aleppo, both the Armenian Evangelical Church and the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL) have set up temporary shelters where several hundred people are receiving warmth, blankets, food and hygiene kits. The NESSL is also providing temporary shelters for affected families in Latakia in the northwest of the country.

In addition, an already running project of the Armenian Evangelical Church can be expanded in the short term: In Aleppo and Kessab, earthquake victims are being supported with cash so that they can buy urgently needed food, hygiene products or blankets. In Aleppo, especially vulnerable people are provided with access to free medical care. 

Investigation for further aid

HEKS is in close contact with its partner organisations in Syria and investigations into how to scale up humanitarian aid are in full swing. The focus is currently on identifying the specific needs of individual regions together with the partner churches who have a strong presence in the affected part of northern Syria. 

The long-term humanitarian response to Syria will focus on rebuilding infrastructure and the economy in order to create sustainable solutions for the affected people. For them, this earthquake is yet another burden in the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Donation account: IBAN CH37 0900 0000 8000 1115 1 with the note "Earthquake Syria".

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