9 February 2023
My friends, brothers, priests, pastors of souls, people of prayers, donors, civil society, humanitarian aid groups, government officials, media, and all working sectors of US Society, and all those who believe in human compassion, I address you with tears of pain, a suffering heart and as an eyewitness who has lived through this major earthquake.
I address you with resolve, trusting in God and your good will to send help to the people of Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria who were affected, directly and indirectly, by major storms, cold winter and the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck on Monday morning February 6, 2023, 3:17 am Local Beirut Time.
The People across Turkey, Syria and Lebanon woke up at around 3:17 am on Monday morning February 6, 2023, to a strong shaking sensation. In Turkey, the ground has shifted 3 meters to the West from its original geological position. The human loss in Turkey and Syria is the greatest most likely in History as present information shows the death toll nearing 20,000.
The main 7.8 magnitude earthquake, and at least a dozen aftershocks were felt across the Region including Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Armenia, and as far as the United Kingdom.
Latest reports estimate 6,444 buildings across 10 provinces in Turkey have bene destroyed. In Northern Syria, entire towns, villages, and neighborhoods have been wiped out from Aleppo to Latakia with thousands of people still trapped inside buildings. Damage has also reached northern Iraq. The number of people affected by this mega earthquake and its aftershocks has reached 23 million people amongst them, 1.4 million children. Over 380,000 people in Turkey have been displaced and are taking refuge inside shelters. The death toll of children alone according to UNICEF might be in the thousands.
I ask you in the name of our common nature as good human beings to show compassion towards the weak, the hungry, the oppressed, the sick, the weary, the displaced, the naked, and the victims of wars and disasters.
I am most consoled to see that friends and doctors of the Mission of Hope and Mercy will be coming urgently and very soon to Lebanon. A group of US doctors are preparing to fly here next week to join us with relief efforts in the country and to help people following the earthquake. They will be here from February 16 – February 23. Our friends will help conduct a field assessment, a crisis management operation and to participate in the relief efforts of Mission of Hope and Mercy.
Collaboration with US based volunteers, doctors and partners has been essential in our ability to respond quickly and effectively when crisis strikes, as well as providing a stable presence in a region that is ravaged by war, economic and political crisis, violence and natural disasters.
Although no deaths have been reported in Lebanon from the quake so far, the devastation to homes, businesses and buildings is being felt. The municipality of Beirut and other cities around it have asked people to evacuate buildings which were already severely damaged from the Beirut Explosion of August 4, 2020. The caretaker interior minister in Lebanon called on residents “to evacuate dilapidated buildings if cracks are apparent, to avoid a new disaster.”
Thousands were forced into the streets, to sleep in their cars or to find safe shelter elsewhere. This at a time when the country is being hit by severe weather including snowstorms.
The real disaster in Lebanon remains that people have no fuel for warmth or electricity, meagre food supplies, no medical supplies or access to affordable healthcare, and over one million children have not returned to school since the Christmas Break.
According to UNESCWA, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, approximately 80% of Lebanon’s population lives below the poverty line, and 36% are in extreme poverty. The economic crisis has devastated a healthcare sector already in crisis.
Help from US doctors is critical if we are to address the crisis in Lebanon and the Middle East. In Lebanon, medicines and medical supplies, most of which are imported, are in short supply, leading to many deaths and threatening the lives of patients with serious illnesses including cancer. The value of nurses’ and doctors’ salaries has declined rapidly, triggering a mass exodus, and placing a heavy burden on the remaining workforce.
I am so grateful to the doctors that are giving of their time to come to the aid of these suffering people.
The crisis in Lebanon is not new, it’s decades old but has escalated in the last two years. The ongoing economic crisis has worsened as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in 2020, followed by the devastating August 2020 Port of Beirut blast, which has been described by experts as “one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history”.
These people are suffering! Fuel shortages in Lebanon have caused widespread electricity blackouts, lasting up to 23 hours per day, and private generators—a costly alternative—have not been able to fill the gap, leaving large portions of the country in darkness for several hours a day. Hospitals, schools, and industry have struggled to operate. People have been left without electricity and clean water, unable to heat or cool their homes. And those who want to leave are stuck, as there’s no fuel available to fill their vehicles.
I hope that the visit by this group of US doctors will shine a light on the plight of the people of the Middle East and I am calling on you, our faithful people to respond with compassion and urgency.
You can help these people in the following ways:
- Mission of Hope and Mercy has opened a Relief Fund to assist the people in the Middle East affected by the Earthquake and severe storms. Donations can be made at http://missionofhopeandmercy.org/donate/. (Please state the purpose of your donation as “Relief Fund winter 2023”) All funds raised will go in full to help people with food, medications, tents and temporary housing, blankets, fuel for warming homes, emergency surgeries if needed, and school education.
- I am inviting you to join me in a Week of Prayer, Solidarity and Acts of Charity for the People of Lebanon, Turkey, Syria and Iraq from Sunday February 12 – Sunday February 19, 2023.
- Please sign up on our Homepage to receive email updates. Please share our website along with this message with all your networks.
I love to share with you how to you can bring Hope and be instruments of Mercy to alleviate the pain and sufferings of the people in Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the Region. I am hoping to be able to set up some Zoom calls very soon to connect with you and share updates on our relief efforts.
From Lebanon, I ask God to bless you all, and I thank you all. This is the time in which we Christians have the golden opportunity to become people of action. This is the time when, through our actions we can live and give testimony of our faith, hope and love in Our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are people of the God of Love not only a God of words. We are not a philosophy – we are the power of redemption and the Mystical Body of Christ the Sufferer and Redeemer of this world falling in great sadness. Please at least send messages and ask people to pray for us. I have received urgent calls to send food to displaced people and blankets, but I need your help!
Let our Movement of Solidarity move America towards God of all goodness and kindness I love you all.