"After the first days of justified panic and fear, we think it’s time to begin a new phase of the humanitarian emergency in Syria," said Fr. Alejandro León, Superior of the Salesian Province "Adolescent Jesus" of the Middle East (MOR). "We’ll continue to keep the doors open and assist all those who turn to us, but we will take a further step forward to offer more comprehensive help and, at the same time, take into account the youngest and their education."
The streets and squares, meanwhile, are still filled with people afraid to return to their homes because of possible new aftershocks or structural damage. "Many are still sleeping in cars, which is impressive because it’s very cold here at night," says Mateo Colmenares, a Salesian volunteer in Aleppo.
Salesian Mission Offices and NGOs are working to ensure that economic aid reaches Syria as soon as possible. "Because of international sanctions and the blockade caused by the war, so far neither relief teams nor material aid has arrived. Little by little it seems that these sanctions shall be lifted and aid will begin to arrive, but for now, all aid is coming from Salesian works in Syria and other churches and organizations working here," the Salesians explain.
An initial emergency project for Syria plans to reach 1,200 people over the next month and a half. The project will be initiated from Aleppo, but will also be extended to Damascus and Kafroun. Salesian solidarity from around the world has already provided more than half of the money needed. Meanwhile, "Misiones Salesianas," the Salesian Mission Office in Madrid, has sent the first shipment of substantial economic aid to Syria.
"Our doors are still open, but we have prepared food kits so that families who have a place to spend the night can take them. We’re also thinking of opening a kind of medical cabinet so that we can offer medicines for the next two months to the elderly who need them," adds Fr. León.
The Salesian missionaries are thus ready to go beyond the emergency in Syria in the coming days: "Thanks to the great team of young volunteers we have, we will also visit and bring food to other needy neighborhoods. In addition, we’re going to work on emotional and psychological reconstruction at 'Don Bosco House,' but we’ll also try to help with the reconstruction of their homes. In fact, 90 percent of the families we serve have suffered severe structural damage to their homes," Salesian missionaries say.
Also in Turkey, Salesian missionaries in Istanbul, in collaboration with Caritas Turkey and Salesian Cooperators, have begun coordinating the aid plan so that emergency projects can be developed in the south of the country, which is the area most affected by the earthquake.
Source: Misiones Salesianas