Missionaries in Syria – bringing relief and hope to earthquake survivors

As of today, the death toll from the February 6th earthquake in Syria and Turkey has risen over 50,000, with thousands more left injured and homeless.

From the first moments after the devastating earthquake hit, missionaries based in Syria were already in place and ready to begin assisting survivors.

“Many Misean Cara members live and work in Syria, supporting citizens cope with the effects of years of war and destruction, and are uniquely positioned to help in the aftermath of this devastating earthquake,” says Misean Cara CEO, John Moffett. “After natural disasters such as this, missionaries are able to mobilise relief efforts almost immediately. They have local networks and resources to draw on, and are trusted figures within their communities, able to quickly mobilise support to those in most urgent need.”

Several Misean Cara member organisations have been actively involved in relief efforts in Syria from the first days after the earthquake. Read on below to learn how missionaries are supporting survivors and coordinating aid delivery and distribution.

Misean Cara is collecting donations on behalf of our members, including the Irish Jesuits International, Salesians Don Bosco, Marist Brothers, Good Shepherd Sisters and Salesian Sisters to support their earthquake relief efforts in Syria.

Please help Misean Cara deliver funding support to missionary relief efforts in Syria. Donate today.

Salesians Don Bosco, Aleppo

March 3:  In an interview with Settimana News (Italy), Fr Dani Gaurie, a Salesian priest in Aleppo, shares a frank account of what life is like in Aleppo at the moment, the continued supports provided to survivors, and the challenges for all to stay hopeful.

” We take care of many practical matters, from the preparation of food and the accommodation of displaced persons to collaboration with public and private organisations to get mattresses and blankets. But now, one of the biggest challenges is to convey and share some sense of hope, because there is so much despair and fear on the part of people. As priests, much of our day is spent listening and trying to share hope. We spend time with people, chat with them and help them feel less fear, especially the elderly…I tell people that they are not alone, that there are many people who pray for us.” -Fr Dani Guarie, Aleppo (Settimana News, March 3 2023)

Read the full interview with Fr Dani here.

Feb. 28: More updates on the Salesians Don Bosco relief efforts, including global support, can be read on the Salesian News Agency website.

Feb. 13: The Salesian missionaries in Aleppo, who have been serving the population since the beginning of the war, are now helping survivors of this week’s earthquake.

The Salesians have already welcomed more than 450 people into their facilities, providing shelter, safety, warmth and food and water and will continue to do so as the numbers of displaced continues to rise.

“The Salesians are ready to mobilize in any way they can to support the many people hard hit by the earthquake,” says Fr Alejandro León, Superior of the Salesian Province of the Middle East (MOR), from Kafroun, near Homs and the Lebanese border. “We know that many buildings have collapsed, so within the limits of our possibilities we will offer shelter, accompaniment, and emergency aid, with all the basic necessities we can offer in these first moments.”

“Between the cold, the snow and the condition of many buildings after almost 12 years of war, the population needs urgent help,” continues Fr Alejandro.

Make a donation of support to the Salesian Don Bosco Ireland Earthquake Appeal here.

The Salesians Don Bosco in Aleppo, Syria have welcomed more than 450 earthquake survivors into their facilities, providing shelter, safety, warmth and food and water. Photos: Salesians Don Bosco

Irish Jesuits International, supporting Jesuit Refugee Services, Syria

Syria Needs You!

Feb. 13: The situation for thousands in Syria is dire as an earthquake last week has caused mass displacement. Since October last year, Irish Jesuits International have been supporting Irish Jesuit Fr Tony O’Riordan and the rest of the Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) Syria team to provide life-saving winter kits to families struggling against the cold winter months.

The earthquake has taken the lives of many and left thousands of buildings collapsed in a wide area extending from Syria’s cities of Aleppo and Hama to Turkey’s Diyarbakir. For families these winter kits have become even more critical as thousands are left displaced, in mourning and at the mercy of the elements.

Fr Tony in Aleppo leads the JRS needs assessment and early response to the tragedy.

You can help ensure this life-saving support continues as Fr Tony and the rest of the JRS team accompany survivors providing them with immediate needs of food and warmth as well as  Psychological First Aid sessions for the grieved and traumatised.

Please donate today. Thank you.

Feb. 20th: Watch a video update from Fr Tony (below), reporting from Aleppo on progress made through their initial response, and hear about his conversations with survivors in hospital and those receiving aid at the Jesuit Centre in the city. Donations to the Irish Jesuits International, in support of Jesuit Refugee Services in Aleppo, can be made directly here.

Fr Tony O’Riordan SJ, Jesuit Refugee Services, Syria leads the JRS needs assessment and early response for survivors. “It is hard to take in the level of terror they have lived through during the earthquake. They are in deep shock and their sense of safety and security has collapsed along with many of the buildings.”
Photo: Jesuit Refugee Services

Marist Brothers

“Already less than half an hour after the earthquake, our doors were open to accommodate 1,000 people during the first day and between 500 and 700 the following days. We are offering them shelter, mattresses, blankets, hot meals, clothes, heating, electricity to recharge their cell phones, and above all our love and a “Marist” heart. -George Sabé -Marists Aleppo 11th February 2023


Feb. 13: In Aleppo, the situation is extremely difficult. The government has limited means to dig through the rubble: time is passing and the possibility of finding survivors is quite impossible. In the meantime, there is a need to deal with the emergency situation of homeless people: the government has set up some reception points, together with some Churches and some temporary shelters. Temperature, during the nights just past, has dropped as low as -4 degrees.

People continue to be afraid: continuous aftershocks endanger buildings – precarious even before the earthquake – especially in the eastern part of the city.

Aleppo, even before the earthquake, was already experiencing a dramatic situation: more than a quarter of the population was displaced people; there were only 2 hours of electricity per day; gasoline was rationed and in any case at prices too high for the population; there was a huge number of people living in severe economic situation (average salary of 25 USD per month); as well as families unable to feed children due to the lack of milk; elderly people forced by circumstances to live alone. Such economic and social dramas have been compounded by the numerous cases of cholera, which has affected many young people since September 2022.

When disasters of this magnitude strike a population, children are among the most vulnerable. Thousands of children in Aleppo are now exposed to cold. Many of them are living in temporary shelters.


A team of technicians and civil society members has been established to respond to the emergency. George Sabe is the only Christian member of the Commission.

A task force of engineers is working to survey safe buildings so people can return home. The 155 Blue Marist volunteers, who were already reaching out extensively to the city with numerous projects to help the elderly, children and families (distribution of food parcels, hot meals for lonely elderly people, distributing milk for 3,000 children in the city, resilience pathways for children and youth) have been welcoming people to the Blue Marist center since February 6th.

This is the list of goods needed and services offered:

  • Mattresses and blankets: the centre has limited places and is housing the homeless to the extent possible. More than 500 mattresses and 500 blankets have already been distributed in the first post-earthquake days.
  • Meals: the recently built canteen inside the centre – where Aleppo women volunteers work – provides hot meals to those most in need. In the first month, an estimated 15,000 meals were distributed.
  • Gas canisters for cooking.
  • Fuel: for heating and electricity generators (about 100 liters per day)
  • Milk and diapers for children.

With over €67,000 already raised in the very first days, which was totally donated to the field mission, FMSI will support the work of the Blue Marists for the first month of the emergency.

Our work keeps going.

FMSI will remain active in fundraising as long as even one person needs our help.

Donations to the earthquake appeal now stand at €126,756, which has supported survivors with 15,000 hot meals, shelter for 6,350 left homeless, as well as distribution of mattresses, blankets, clothes, diapers, and heating.

Donations to the FMSI fundraising campaign for Syria can be made here.

Relief efforts by the Blu Marists in Aleppo include distribution of food parcels, hot meals, milk and diapers, heating fuel, and mattresses and blankets for earthquake survivors. Photos: Blu Marists, Aleppo

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