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SYRIA: Salesians in Aleppo continue work after powerful aftershock

More than 750 sought shelter at the Don Bosco Center in Aleppo


(MissionNewswire) Two weeks after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria*, killing more than 47,000 people, another powerful 6.4 magnitude quake triggered panic in the impacted areas. Thousands of people took to the streets, seeking shelter. More than 750 sought shelter at the Don Bosco Center in Aleppo.

“In Aleppo, we felt the earthquake very strongly. All the people took to the streets with so many nightmares still in their heads and so much fear,” said Father Pier Jabloyan, delegate of social communication of the Salesian Middle East Adolescent Jesus Province.

Many people have nowhere to go and nowhere to sleep in Aleppo. Salesian missionaries, who have been serving those in Syria since the beginning of the war, are doing their best to help earthquake victims with shelter, food, warm clothes, blankets and more. Focused first on providing shelter and immediate support, the goal was to turn their attention to long-term need. With this new quake, it’s like starting over again.

Fr. Jabloyan added, “The difficulty is that now the Salesian center is overloaded with people. We have difficulty getting mattresses, blankets and food. We were not prepared for so many and we were only equipped for 400 people.”

Father Alejandro León, provincial superior of the province, explained that people felt added trauma with this new quake. “When the first earthquake happened, the one in the early morning hours, the families were together and sleeping, but with this aftershock, the fear and uncertainty were compounded by not knowing the location of children, parents, or the rest of the family.”

The goal is to help people not only with immediate needs but also support the psychological trauma people have faced. Fr. Jabloyan explained, “We see great fear in the eyes of children, youth and their families. It is felt even more strongly now with the aftershock.”

Even though supplies are stretched thin, Salesian will continue to serve people in Aleppo. Fr. León said, “Amid pain, panic and uncertainty, everyone wants to help those who are worse off, everyone asks what they can do. They have incredible patience and faith, and many recognize that they come to us because they feel safer in church.”

Salesian missionaries operate three centers in Kafroun and the particularly high-conflict areas of Aleppo and Damascus. Throughout the ongoing war and struggles in the country, Salesian centers continue to meet the needs of their communities through the distribution of food, economic aid and scholarships to help young people continue with their schooling. Their work continues now even in the face of additional tragedy.



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*Any goods, services or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.

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