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February 7, 2023 — After the severe earthquake on Feb. 6, 2023, that struck Syria and Turkey, the situation remains dramatic. The Cathedral of the Annunciation in Iskenderun, Turkey, has collapsed. Bishop Paolo Bizzeti, SJ, of Anatolia in Eastern Turkey, was out of the country at the time but is organizing help. Antuan Ilgit, SJ, is on sight in Turkey and is organizing relief for his parishioners. The situation is fluid and constantly being updated. The surrounding picture is bleak: collapsed or uninhabitable hospitals, lack of electricity, broken or very difficult connections.

Photo courtesy: Antuan Ilgit, SJ

“We express our deepest sympathy and condolences to the families and communities affected by the recent earthquakes in Syria and Turkey,” said Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus. “Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones, homes and communities. We pray for the swift and safe recovery of all those who have been injured and for the comfort of those who have been impacted by this disaster.”

Photo courtesy: Antuan Ilgit, SJ

In Aleppo, Syria, the community of three Jesuits fled their house after the first earthquake and joined the other residents of Aleppo in the freezing cold through the night. Many houses have collapsed. People refuse to return to their homes out of fear of other earthquakes. The Society has opened up its building in Aziziyé, Syria, to people looking for shelter. Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is leading the Jesuit response and has already launched an appeal for funds.

Photo courtesy: Antuan Ilgit, SJ

Irish Jesuit Fr. Tony O’Riordan, SJ, director of JRS Syria, said: “I am just arriving (February 7) in Aleppo to lead JRS needs assessment and early response. Sustaining life and health is our immediate priority, and we will seek to reopen our health clinics once buildings are cleared by engineers later today, and we will continue to ramp up our support of basic protection again the cold and elements for people unable to return home. Helping people remain resilient mentally will be a second priority.”

How to Help

  •  Turkey – For more information and links for donations, visit www.amo-fme.org.
  •  Syria – For more information and links for donations, visit www.jrs.net. For donations from the United States, click here.

(Source: Jesuit Curia)

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