GOPA-DERD's team emergency response by distributing food items, winterization kits and medicine to those affected by the earthquake in Aleppo, Hama and Latakia. Photo: GOPA-DERDbool(true)

ACT members bringing life-saving aid to Syria

GOPA-DERD's team emergency response by distributing food items, winterization kits and medicine to those affected by the earthquake in Aleppo, Hama and Latakia. Photo: GOPA-DERD
GOPA-DERD’s team emergency response by distributing food items, winterization kits and medicine to those affected by the earthquake in Aleppo, Hama and Latakia. Photo: GOPA-DERD

Immediately after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in the early hours of the morning on February 6, ACT members began to conduct rapid needs assessments in Syria and Turkey.  They also began to provide life-saving aid including food, medicine, and warm blankets, mattresses and pyjamas to families who lost everything to the devastating quake even as search and rescue efforts continue to free survivors from the rubble.

“People are staying out of their homes,” reports Samer Laham of the Middle East Council of Churches.  “They are afraid of aftershocks destroying the buildings that are still standing.”

Sara Savva of The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East- Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (GOPA-DERD) continues, “Lots of buildings have not yet collapsed, but they are not stable.  Families are sleeping in the streets, in cars if they have them, with friends and family, or in shelters.”

As the numbers of people killed, injured and displaced by the earthquake grow, so too does the support from ACT members.  As of February 8, seven ACT members are involved in response or are conducting needs assessments.  These include:

MECC

MECC reports that 232 sites have been offered as shelters in Aleppo since the quake, including church halls, mosques, schools and municipal halls.  MECC is providing mattresses and blankets, as well as hot meals, to affected families, and is working to secure additional supplies to meet the needs.

They report that there is a lack of availability of some key items in Aleppo, so they are being transported from Damascus.

“The key need currently is food baskets,” reports Ghassan Chahine of MECC.  “We need canned and pre-made food, as people cannot cook at the moment.”

GOPA-DERD

GOPA-DERD is performing assessments in Aleppo, Hama and Latakia, and has been distributing a variety of items to families in need including winterization kits (blankets, pyjamas and mattresses), ready to eat meals and food kits to those in shelters and to those outside of them as well, kitchen kits to shelters to help them prepare meals for the families living there, battery chargers, hygiene and dignity kits, and medical supplies to hospitals and the shelters.  

GOPA-DERD is sending engineering teams to examine buildings to make sure they are safe for people to return to. They are also preparing to provide emergency psychosocial support in the coming weeks.

GOPA-DERD is looking to scale up their response as soon as possible.

Christian Aid

Christian Aid is working in northwest Syria in non-government controlled areas.  One of their Syrian partners has started distributing pre-positioned winterization kits in western rural Aleppo and Idleb. Another is distributing child protection and winterization kits, setting up child friendly spaces, and supporting family reunification.

Swiss Church Aid (HEKS)

HEKS is supporting families living in schools and shelters with in-kind support.  They are developing a medium to long term intervention which is likely to be focused on providing multi-purpose cash support to affected families.  They are performing their assessment from Damascus, working with the Syrian government’s relevant ministries.

FCA

Fin Church Aid is providing winterization kits to 2000 families in shelters in Aleppo, as well as hygiene and dignity kits.  They are undertaking assessments in Aleppo and Hama and will continue to develop their response.

Hungarian Interchurch Aid

Hungarian Interchurch Aid, with its local partner Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), is currently developing a response plan providing emergency food and non-food items (NFIs) to the people affected by the earthquake in Aleppo. The implementation will be overseen by HIA’s office in Erbil and supported by the Budapest HQ. HIA has also opened its helpline to collect donations and, depending on the available funds, is planning a medium to long-term intervention.

LWF and DKH

The Lutheran World Federation and Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe are both doing needs assessments with their local partners and developing their response plans, which will be available soon.

Support ACT’s work

The Alert for ACT’s response can be found here.  The ACT Syria Forum is revising its 2023 appeal to include the earthquake response, and that document will be available shortly.

To support ACT’s work, please contact Niall O’Rourke, Head of Humanitarian Affairs and George Majaj, Humanitarian Programme Advisor for MENA.