Earthquake in Syria: our story continues from Knayeh and Latakia
«The Lord truly saved me from certain death. My church with much of the convent is out of order. Sadly, so many neighbors have died.». So says in a message on whastapp Father Louai Bsharat, a Franciscan friar in the village of Knayeh, Syria. The first news has arrived from the villages controlled by jihadist rebels close to Al Nusra, where Pro Terra Sancta has two emergency centers active and welcomes people affected by the earthquake. Our collaborator, the Franciscan Father Louay sent a voice message to the staff: “All the time we are with people to treat and visit them. Most of the houses are damaged. Thank God, the Lord saved our lives, but so many neighbors died even though we still can’t give an exact number.“. Aid is difficult to arrive and communications are often interrupted.
Giacomo Pizzi from Latakia
Meanwhile, our collaborator Giacomo Pizzi moved from Aleppo to Latakia, for an inspection in another city in Syria seriously affected by the earthquake. From there he tells us: “Yesterday I arrived in Latakia. Here there are about 200 people in the convent and several evacuees in other centers. Now I don’t have the data yet, but the situation is similar in Aleppo. The central part of the city has not had major collapses except for two buildings. The buildings did not collapse, but already two or three were evacuated yesterday because they were at risk of collapse.” He continues: “In fact, you can see that they are unstable, so I see many displaced people who cannot return to their homes. Moreover, as slight tremors continue, these buildings will probably either collapse on their own, (like those in Beirut), or at some point they will be torn down, because in these conditions they are not livable. The most affected parts of Latakia are the northern suburbs, where there is a small village, and the southern suburbs.“
“In the southern suburbs there is a settlement of Palestinians since 1948 or newer. While in the north there are largely displaced families from Idlib. The displaced persons of the war (Palestinians and these from Idlib, Knayeh and Yacoubieh in particular) are therefore displaced again. During the war they were looking for a home here and now they don’t have it anymore. The story of this 90-year-old Jameela woman who fled Idlib with her family to escape al-Nusra is iconic. Yesterday they were about to go back to their house dancing all over and they let them out and now they don’t have a home.”
The story continues, while the visit to the earthquake areas continues: “Today I am in the Palestinian area of al-Ramli, one of the poorest in Syria. I found children taking irons from collapsed areas and then selling them. A little girl had taken away a blanket found in the rubble to cover herself. It’s still very cold. A little while ago I witnessed the extraction of a 14-year-old boy and his father, found alive in the rubble. They were two of nine survivors of a building where 40 people lived. Today we have distributed food and powdered milk to more than 30 families in Latakia, and we continue to welcome people who cannot yet return home.”. In the area of East Aleppo, where Pro Terra Sancta has three shelters for orphans or children of mothers raped when the area was occupied, there are victims who have no name. In these centers we had a thousand children who fail to get recognition and have never been regularized. They were born under the bombing and now, some of them died under the earthquake. For the authorities they did not even exist.
Syria in the twelfth year of war
Right now in Syria, when we are about to enter the 13th year since the beginning of the war, it is that people feel completely forgotten because nobody talks about them anymore. The concrete need is really important at the moment. It was even before the earthquake and also for people who were not poor. Without forgetting that all the skilled workers, who could give an extra gear, left. Now those who remained lack food, water, blankets. And then when we understand the extent of the damage, we will have to intervene for the reconstruction of the houses.
We continue to ask for help to face the emergencies of these days and we ask for the lifting of the embargo that is killing the Syrian population. All aid will be promptly transferred to the Syrian population. For this reason, Pro Terra Sancta immediately activated a fundraising campaign to support those affected by the earthquake and repair the damage caused to homes .