Danni terremoto Siria

Earthquake in Syria: damage to our facilities

Veronica Brocca2 March 2023

In northern Syria, the rubble left by the war is covered by that of the earthquake. Or rather, earthquakes, which since February 6 have shaken the ground at least 9 thousand times with aftershocks.

Victims in Turkey and Syria have exceeded the tragic threshold of 50,000 people. More than half a million people have been displaced.

In Aleppo , people are sleeping on the streets, in makeshift camps, for fear of new powerful tremors. Among the incalculable buildings that collapsed are those that Pro Terra Sancta has helped build over the years since 2012.

Turning on the light is a gesture that many in the world take for granted. Syrians don’t. Citizens have only two hours of electricity a day; For the rest there is a generator, but it has costs and the night is not turned on.

The Syrians affected by the first earthquake at 4:15 am had to flee into the streets in total darkness and cold while the earth shook, increasing panic, especially of the little ones. In addition, there was rain that night and in some areas it even snowed – the thermometer was -4°.

Families find shelter in the parish hall of Aleppo

Damage to Aleppo and East Aleppo

In Aleppo there were major collapses and two people we knew unfortunately died. In the area of East Aleppo we have three centers used for the project “A name a future“. Giacomo from the field tells us that the centers have remained standing, only one has suffered structural damage that must be carefully verified.

«Unfortunately, 15 children who lived in these day care centers died. Even three women who came to us for activities didn’t make it.» says Giacomo. Now our task is not only to continue the activities of our centers A name a future , but to increase their activities, today even more important for children raised in a country at war and traumatized by the earthquake.

We are thinking about implementing further projects through music therapy and art therapy. Also in the Aleppo area, through the reconnaissance of the last few days, we found that about 30% of the solar panels installed on houses in recent years have collapsed together with the houses on which they were placed. The installation of photovoltaic panels is part of the project ” Let’s turn on a light for Syria” which has allowed over 100 Aleppo families to have electricity, running water and stoves on.

Syria 2 earthquake shelter
Syria earthquake shelter

And in the meantime, research continues, but with great obstacles: there is even a lack of gasoline for ambulances and rescue and in any case there are not enough means to help people.

The convent of the Franciscan friars where Giacomo was hosted on the night of the first shock suffered serious damage to the bell tower, whose stones collapsed, and even a structure where children played collapsed. There is no hiding the discouragement in these days: much of what had been rebuilt has been destroyed again.

In the center of Pro Terra Sancta, after the earthquake of February 6, another 1000 people arrived to ask for help and hospitality. Even schools are still closed because they welcome displaced people who need urgent aid: food, medicine, blankets, basic necessities.

Damage to the north

Heavy destruction also in the cities of Latakia, Knayeh and Yacoubiyeh, in northern Syria. One of our collaborators in Latakia reports this testimony “In Latakia, on the coast, 500 new people came to Pro Terra Sancta centers to take refuge. At one point there were no mattresses and blankets for everyone and we no longer knew how to accommodate due to lack of space. Just yesterday we had begun the scouting of houses to allow families to return, but they returned to us because the tremor had further damaged the buildings. Even in Knayeh, in areas still controlled by jihadists, there were new collapses and many more injured.“.

From Latakia to Aleppo, the Franciscans and volunteers of the Association are dedicated to welcoming and preparing hot meals for thousands of people and during the day the conditions of the houses are verified. Our collaborators tell us that many Syrians did not know that they could turn to someone for help. The first ones who came to us were aware of our work, and word spread quickly.

Syria earthquake tent
Tent in a camp in Latakia

In this difficult emergency that is repeated continuously, the fundraising campaign activated by Pro Terra Sancta in the hours immediately following the earthquake does not stop.

Help us to bring concrete support to a Syria already bent by 12 years of war.