As the tragic toll of the Feb. 6 earthquakes continues to unfold in Syria, Mennonite Central Committee is working with long-term partners in Aleppo and surrounding areas to meet urgent needs.
When an earthquake of 7.8-magnitude followed hours later by a 7.5-magnitude quake struck northwestern Syria and southeastern Turkey, it dealt a devastating blow in Syrian communities already suffering from years of conflict.
“We are only beginning to see the enormity of this disaster,” said Garry Mayhew. He and his wife, Kate, based in Beirut, are MCC representatives for Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
“The sheer numbers of lives lost, injured and displaced are overwhelming, and numbers will continue to grow in the days ahead,” Mayhew said.
Over the past decade in Syria, many buildings had been damaged by war and neglect, making them vulnerable to shocks from the earthquake. Families who have been displaced by conflict often live in unfinished and unsafe buildings at higher risk for collapse.
Many buildings came down in the quake, reported MCC partners in Syria. Hundreds of aftershocks have added to damage and trauma, and cold weather is worsening rescue efforts and survivors’ struggles.
MCC is responding in Aleppo and surrounding areas by working with partners that are opening shelter centers in churches and community buildings and providing emergency food, shelter, hygiene, sanitation supplies and trauma counseling.
“Many of our partners have been involved with relief work for the last 12 years of the Syrian war. This has allowed them to quickly pivot to supporting those who are displaced by the earthquake,” Mayhew said.
But the needs are immense.
“People are continuing to pour in, and the needs for urgent items (food, water, blankets, mattresses, diapers, etc.) keep growing,” he said. “Many partners, staff and volunteers, who are supporting others, are also displaced with damaged homes and are dealing with their own losses and trauma.”
For many Syrians, this burden, on top of years of war, feels too heavy to carry.
“It is critical that we stand with those who are suffering at this time,” Mayhew said. “Many Syrians feel forgotten by the world after so many years of suffering. We must help them know that they are not forgotten, that we see their pain and stand with them.”
In addition to meeting immediate needs, MCC will be working with partners to determine longer-term projects and responses.
In the U.S., people can contribute to MCC’s response by giving online at mcc.org/earthquake, by calling 888-563-4676 or by sending a check marked for “Syria and Türkiye earthquake” to MCC, PO Box 500, Akron, PA 17501.
In Canada, give online at mcccanada.ca/earthquake, call 888-622-6337 or send a check marked for “Syria and Türkiye earthquake” to your local MCC office.
Since 2011, MCC has worked to meet urgent needs of people affected by conflict in Syria. This is one of MCC’s largest humanitarian responses in its century-long history.