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PWRDF supports HC earthquake appeal and Jordan-based relief organization

PWRDF is participating in the Humanitarian Coalition appeal through its membership in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

February 16, 2023

By Janice Biehn

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(This story has been updated.)

A day after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Türkiye on the Syrian border, PWRDF allocated $35,000 to the ACT Alliance to support an urgent response from its members working in Syria. PWRDF began accepting donations from people wanting to help and has so far received $88,825. We have also allocated $5,000 to the Diocese of Jerusalem, working in Northern Syria.

PWRDF also participated in the Humanitarian Coalition appeal, as a member of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Advocacy from the HC for a government match paid off, and on February 24, the Government of Canada announced that donations made to the HC appeal and its members would be matched up to $10 million. That means donations made to PWRDF between February 6 and 22 are eligible to be matched. The appeal raised more than $12 million.

The earthquake damage has been catastrophic. At least 1,200 aftershocks were reported, says the ACT Alliance, followed by a second earthquake later the same day of 7.5 magnitude in Central Türkiye near the city of Gaziantep.

“Widespread building collapse has been reported in southeast Türkiye and northern Syria. The earthquake was also felt across Lebanon, Cyprus and the region while it is expected that aftershocks which may be at the same intensity as the initial earthquake will be felt for weeks,” says a report from the ACT Alliance.

After almost a week of digging through rubble and removing massive pieces of concrete, more than 23,000 deaths had been reported, with 14,014 in Türkiye and 4,377 in Syria, and almost 7,700 people injured in Syria. As of February 24, the total death toll had reached more than 47,000. There are thousands of collapsed buildings, and 115 schools destroyed in Aleppo, Hama, and Lattakia. Inclement winter weather has caused flooding in displacement camps.

The relief grant of $5,000 to the Diocese of Jerusalem will provide food, water, clothing and medical supplies to those affected by the earthquake in northern Syria. The Rev. Canon Fa’eq Haddad, Rector of Church of the Redeemer in Amman, Jordan is coordinating the relief efforts working with Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization, an experienced local humanitarian agency.  

Syria remains a challenging environment in which to provide support. Rescuers and aid agencies must deal with the long-term effects of the war, destruction of civilian infrastructure, economic collapse, explosive ordnance contamination, COVID 19, and one of the largest number of internally displaced people in the world.

The ACT Secretariat has negotiated a process to sending funds to Syria, which is under sanction. Many members working in the area have been responding to humanitarian needs. ACT and its members in the area have called for the sanctions to be lifted during this humanitarian crisis.

One organization is the Middle East Council of Churches, with whom PWRDF has partnered on other emergency responses in the past. On February 13, MECC invited all member churches in Aleppo to discuss coordinating a response. The Aleppo Church Leaders Committee (ACLC) agreed to establish an ecumenical Syria earthquake committee along with a technical-legal committee to deal with the safety of building structures affected by earthquake.

ACT member Middle East Council of Churches is providing mattresses and blankets, as well as hot meals, to affected families gathering in local churches. Photos: MECC

This committee will assess the priorities of those who need help with housing and how to implement repairs. MECC will also be distributing food and non-food items to existing shelters and looking at fast and effective ways of getting cash assistance to people.

The ACT Alliance has issued an appeal for Syria for earthquake response (US$6 million) and ongoing resilience work (US$5 million). There is a pledge of $3 million by the funding members so far, and it is hoped that this number will go up as members continue to raise funds. 

Two ACT members have partners working in Syria that are not controlled by the government. In Türkiye, two other ACT members have local partners doing needs assessments. The partners have distributed water and food. ACT is still determining whether to issue an appeal for Türkiye.  

How you can help

Please keep the people affected by this devastating earthquake in your prayers. Donations can be made to support PWRDF’s response online, or over the phone by calling 416-822-9083 (or leave a message toll-free at 1-866-308-7973 and we will return your call.) You can also donate by mail. Send your cheque to PWRDF, 80 Hayden Street, 3rd Floor, Toronto, ON, Canada, M4Y 3G2. Please indicate Syria/Türkiye Earthquake in the memo field.

With files from Naba Gurung, PWRDF Humanitarian Response Coordinator

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For media requests please contact Communications Coordinator Janice Biehn at (416) 924-9199;366.

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