19 May 2024

Earthquake emergency relief efforts focusing on shelter, warmth and food: Open Doors

Rescuers searching rubble for survivors following devastating earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye. Image: Supplied.

Kirralee Nicolle

8 February 2023

Christians in Australia are being urged to pray for those affected by devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria and consider donating to relief efforts.

The epicentre of the quake occurred on Monday, 6 February near the Turkish city of Gaziantep, near the border with Syria, according to the World Health Organisation. The United Nations said the original quake was a 7.8 magnitude, with a 7.5 magnitude quake following the first. The Guardian has reported that the death toll is more than 7,800 across the two affected nations. Aid organisations are seeking to partner with those on the ground to deliver vital emergency resources and assistance.

Read more: Climate change to blame for widespread hunger and increased violence in Africa

Open Doors Australia chief experience officer Anna Hutchens said Open Doors partners in Syria were offering shelter inside churches, with some providing temporary shelter to over 1000 displaced people.

“In Turkey, the focus is less on shelter,” she said. “It’s on giving out blankets and sleeping bags and heaters. [Open Doors partners are] supporting the recovery efforts, and giving emergency relief, food and water.”

“We’ve gotten a lot of reports from Syria about the church being able to help people who have been affected in a really significant way. So we’re praying that God continues to use the church as a light in the darkness.”

Read more: Famine, oppression loom large as international community focuses elsewhere

Ms Hutchens said Open Doors were asking Christians to both pray and give to the emergency response work, and that the agency had an immediate need for $100,000 for resources.

“Obviously, prayer is one of those things that can sometimes feel like it’s not enough,” she said. “But obviously, as believers, we know that it’s the most powerful thing that we can do.”

Anglican Overseas Aid executive director Jo Knight said while AOA was not directly involved in relief efforts, they were supporting this work as part of their involvement in the ACT Alliance, a network of aid organisations who were delivering services to those affected by the earthquakes and their aftershocks.

Read more: Anglican efforts in Africa weakened by Ukraine crisis

Ms Knight said Australian government agencies were working effectively to establish aid work in Türkiye and Syria. She said there might also be other ways to help those affected.

“[There] might be Turkish and Syrian communities here people can reach out [to] through local networks,” she said.

“In situations of this scale, it’s prayer and a generous financial response that will make the difference.”

To give to Anglican Overseas Aid, see here, and to give to Open Doors, see here. Anglican Board of Mission and Anglicans in Development have also launched an appeal here.

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