JRS Syria staff provide emergency services, including food, shelter, medicines, clothes and psychosocial support to those affected by the February earthquake in Aleppo, Homs, and other parts of the country. Photo: JRS Syria  


As of April 17, Canadian Jesuits International (CJI) has raised $269,095 to help victims of the deadly February 6, 2023, earthquake in northwest Syria.

CJI is sending donations received from Canadians to its international partner, Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) Syria, whose staff is working on the ground to address the needs of those most affected in Aleppo, where about two million people have been affected by the earthquake.

JRS has provided support to at least 40,000 people, according to its situation report dated March 31.

“The earthquake has added untold suffering to a people who have already suffered from years of war which has led to millions of people dead or displaced and a country in ruins,” said CJI Executive Director Jenny Cafiso. “The work of the committed JRS team, which has continued to support the people over 10 years of war, at great cost to themselves and their immediate response after the earthquake are a source of hope for the people of Syria and inspiration for us.”

One of the youngest people supported by JRS is two-week-old Zain. His mother was pregnant with Zain when the deadly earthquake hit Aleppo.  She, her two other children and relatives managed to flee their building before it collapsed.

“A JRS outreach team visited Zain’s mother and family in a squalid unfurnished room that had become their shelter,” said the report.  JRS supported the family with food and access to medical care, especially for Zain’s mother who was malnourished.

Zain was born three days after the earthquake, and he weighed just over 1 kg (2.2 lbs).  “Though vulnerable, he is a resilient child and with care and medical intervention, he has gained strength [and has put on] weight,” said JRS, which supported Zain and his mother with medical costs and essential baby products.

“Baby Zain is a symbol of the fragile hope for Syria and of the resilience of the Syrian people,” said JRS. His story also illustrates the value of the support for the work that JRS is doing on the ground, it added.

JRS Syria staff are helping to provide emergency services, including food, shelter, clothes, medicines, and other basic needs, as well as psychosocial support.

The devastating impact of the earthquake compounds pre-existing trauma and the daily struggle for survival resulting from 12 years of war in Syria.

“Not only have thousands of concrete buildings collapsed or been damaged in the earthquake, leaving thousands homeless, the earthquake has also left millions with a sense of fear and new dread, they yearn for a sense of safety, for food and for shelter and for hope in a better tomorrow,” said JRS Country Director, Fr Tony O’Riordan SJ.

While the response of JRS Syria focuses on Aleppo, which is one of the worst affected areas, it also supports families who fled to Homs and surrounding towns, as well as families displaced in Damascus.

As of March 31, JRS has distributed food parcels that will provide 7,800 families with meals for 25 days (about 3 and a half weeks). It provided psychological first aid and a safe space for 2,000 children whose education was disrupted since their schools were used as emergency shelters.

JRS also offered basic psychosocial support to over 6,800 adults and conducted  information sessions for over 7,000 people about safety in the event of another earthquake.

It has provided nearly 11,000 free medical consultations in its gynecology, pediatric and general practice Health Centres in Eastern Aleppo.

“According to one JRS pediatric doctor, many of the 3,662 children examined in JRS-run clinics were treated for respiratory illnesses due to dust inhalation and sleeping outdoors in sub-zero temperatures,” said JRS.

Read more about the impact of your support for the Syria relief efforts here.

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