It is especially important to take care of children during disasters. Together with our church partners, NCA provides security, care and the most necessary things to the little ones in Syria after the earthquake.
When the powerful earthquake hit Turkey and Syria on the night of Monday February 6th, the messages we received from our employees and partners in Syria were heart-breaking. Thousands of people who have lived with war and conflict for years lost their houses, belongings and many of the survivors lost their loved ones. Grown men are crying in the streets, children have lost their parents, people are living on the streets in freezing temperatures, and many are experiencing terrible trauma. It is a desperate situation.
Our church partners were already mapping out the needs for emergency aid in the morning hours after the earthquake and immediately started emergency relief work. They opened churches and parish houses for the survivors, served hot food and gradually distributed food boxes, mattresses and blankets.
NCA cooperates with the Greek Orthodox Church (GOPA) and the Syrian Orthodox Church (SOPA) professional humanitarian organisations. With good and long-term cooperation agreements in place, Church Aid was able to quickly mobilize a large response in Aleppo, Latakia and Hama. These cities have many internally displaced people after the war and are among the hardest hit after the earthquake.
The Syrian Church is one of the oldest in the world and has been part of Syrian society for 2,000 years. The country today has a Christian minority, but the church as an institution has deep roots and long diaconal traditions. It is a leading principle in their humanitarian work to be present for everyone regardless of religious affiliation. During the crisis in Iraq in the early 2000s, when many Iraqis fled to Syria, the churches in Syria modernized their diaconal work with a great ability to also mobilize volunteers for efforts. They are used to be the first to respond.
Since the war in Syria broke out in 2011, our church partners have contributed continuously with humanitarian aid, while the churches and their employees have also been affected by the conflict. Through their solid work, they have built up a great deal of respect and trust in the population across religions and walks of life. People in crisis must be met with respect and dignity, and here we see that the churches are leading the way. Our church partners are present in the local communities and in people's everyday lives, and they know the needs so well, not least the psycho-social needs.
NCA aims to respond quickly in crises. In Syria, we were able to do just this thanks to our partnerships with the churches. The quick response would also not have been possible without funds collected from churches and congregations in Norway and from other faithful donors. The churches are present and continue with their usual diaconal programs even after the major emergency response has ended. They carry out their mission with respect and dignity.