Syria, already devastated by war and the economic hardship resulting from it and the international sanctions imposed, was hit by a terrible 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 6 February at 04:17 local time.
According to the latest UNICEF report published in March 2022, 6.5 million children are living in vulnerable conditions, including more than 3 million who are displaced.
The economic situation of families is extremely vulnerable: more than 90 per cent of the Syrian population live in poverty, with about 85 per cent of displaced families forced into debt. In fact, the average price of the food basket increased by 97 per cent from December 2020 to December 2021, leaving 12 million people (54 per cent of the population) severely food insecure. 20% of Syrian children under the age of 5 are chronically or acutely malnourished.
The worsening living conditions particularly affect children. 1 out of every 3 families report that their children show signs of psychological distress and 17% of displaced families in Syria have one or more children out of the school system, making a total of approximately 2.45 million Syrian children (40% are girls) who do not go to school. Among the causes, there is also a major shortage of facilities: 1 in every 3 schools in the territory cannot be used because they have been destroyed, damaged, house displaced families or are used for military purposes.
To cope with these difficulties, the Blue Marist centre in Aleppo, thanks to a network of 155 volunteers, Christians and Muslims, works daily to support the Syrian population.
The work of the volunteers has never stopped, even after the difficulties that arose during the earthquake.
On the contrary, their work increased, day after day. In June, two staff members of the Marist Foundation for International Solidarity (FMSI) travelled to Aleppo and had the opportunity to monitor several projects funded through the ‘Earthquake Syria’ campaign.
The campaign was launched on February 7th, 2023 to support the mission in Aleppo in this emergency time. To date, 365,369.09€ have been collected from a total of 533 donors.
The fundraising campaign aimed to respond quickly to the initial phase of the earthquake and the following state of humanitarian emergency through targeted interventions, including:
- Distribution of 5,194 food parcels
- Distribution of powdered milk to children under 11 years of age and special infant formula for infants under 1 year of age
- Distribution of 48,596 hot meals to people displaced by the earthquake and who found shelter in the centre during the first emergency phase
- Psycho-social support to people in a vulnerable condition who had been living in a war-torn country for years before the earthquake, with special attention to children
- Distribution of clothing, diapers, blankets.
Having overcome the initial post-emergency phase, the Blue Marists have fully resumed all their activities, and to date, all programs have fully restarted.