Scores of Christian charities are on the frontlines in Syria and Türkiye helping tens of thousands of victims of the earthquake catastrophe.
Samaritan’s Purse has deployed a 52-bed emergency field hospital with two operating theatres and at least 75 specialist staff including several Australians to Türkiye.
The charity’s Australia Projects Manager Jodie Reid told Vision Radio they’re supported by 90 tonnes of equipment and supplies.
“We’ll put up our emergency field hospital. We’ve got tents, tarps, lights, all those things that those displaced people will need for this first wave. And then obviously, once we’ve been on the ground for a while, we’ll go through them and we’ll see what the next needs are. We will change and move to what they are.”
“We’ll be providing shelter and other needs, not just practical needs — we’ll be there showing God’s love and supporting people in that spiritual need as well.”
World Vision said: “We’re helping people get access to temporary shelters, heaters, clean water, and critically needed healthcare. We’re also providing care for children whose families aren’t able to in the midst of this crisis.”
Its Syria Response Director Johan Mooij added: “Hundreds of thousands are now homeless and some will have been separated from their families which further increases their risk of being exploited or facing abuse.”
“Unfortunately, there are people who will prey on this vulnerability and exploit these children at a time when they most need support and protection. As a child-focused organisation the safety and protection of children is World Vision’s main priority.”
Among other Christian aid agencies in the disaster zone are Christian Aid, Catholic Relief Services, Caritas, CAFOD, Tearfund, First Hope Association, Awareness Foundation and Send Relief.
The Christian Broadcasting Network’s (CBN) Operation Blessing is also on the ground.
CBN News reported: “The weather is not helping at all. The snowstorm is very intense. The weather is very, very cold. People are sleeping on the streets under a tarp.”
Many families have taken to sleeping in churches, convents or even hospitals, according to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
Anne Marie Gagnon the director of the St. Louis Hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo, told ACN that the main Catholic hospital is working exhaustively to attend to the injured.
She fears structural damage has made hospital buildings unsafe.
Many nuns have opened their doors to those suffering.
Persecution watchdog Open Doors is also providing relief.
Australian chief executive Adam Holland told Vision Radio it’s especially helping victims from Christian minorities:
“Open Doors operates centres of hope in the Middle East. And so there’s a rapid response happening to make a real difference in Syria particularly, but in the region as a whole, so that persecuted Christians who already are up against so much and have to count the costs, have support,” he said
“There’s a lot of immediate response that’s happening. And then there’s also that medium and long term planning to try to work with those people who are already displaced to have a bit more of a long term plan.”
Patrick Watt, CEO of Christian Aid, explained: “Even before this devastating earthquake, we knew over four million people needed aid in north-west Syria alone” after being displaced during the civil war.
The Middle East Council of Churches is calling on the US government to lift its sanctions on Syria.
It argues that due to the sanctions and the US occupation of Syrian land, Syria “is unable to fully respond to the tragic catastrophe.”
“We urge the immediate lifting of sanctions on Syria and allowing access to all materials, so sanctions may not turn into a crime against humanity,” the Council appealed.
All Christian aid workers in the quake devastation are offering prayers when and where they can.
Their agencies are pleading for believers around the world to keeping praying for survivors, grieving families and the nations of Syria and Türkiye.