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Church’s relief assistance to Turkey, Syria quake victims passes $11 million

Latest relief aid includes food boxes — with items appropriate for the Muslim-observed Ramadan — and mobile health clinics

Continued relief aid from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to victims of the Feb. 6 earthquakes in Turkey and Syria has reached more than $11.5 million in assisting 18 relief projects.

Additional Church-approved assistance includes food boxes, hygiene kits, mobile clinics, tents, mattresses, blankets and kitchen sets, according to a March 23 update published on the Church’s UK Newsroom.

“The world has the enormous task of saving these vulnerable people,” said Elder Rubén V. Alliaud, a General Authority Seventy and counselor in the Church’s Europe Central Area who oversees the area’s humanitarian aid.

“The Church wants to keep ‘thinking big’ and supplying as much support as possible to the Turkish and Syrian earthquake victims. They’re our brothers and sisters, fellow children of the God we worship. We feel blessed to work shoulder-to-shoulder with other faith groups, governments, charitable organizations and individuals. We hope more will join in this great humanitarian effort.”

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Through its disaster-relief agency AFAD (Disaster and Emergency Management Authority), the Turkish government joined governments of other nations and global relief organizations in moving quickly to provide immediate assistance.

More than a month after the devastating early-morning quakes of Feb. 6, the main challenges center on the survival of the 13 million people left without shelter, income, medical care and other necessities of life. That 13 million includes up to 2 million children who lost one or both parents in the natural disaster.

Helping coordinate the Church’s relief efforts are Elder Peter Huber and Sister Carla Huber, a full-time humanitarian missionary couple from Switzerland who are based in Frankfurt, Germany, the Church’s area headquarters.

Elder Peter Huber and Sister Carla Huber, volunteer missionaries of the Church, meet with Burhan Aslan, the Church’s main contact in AFAD, the Turkish government disaster and emergency agency in March 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Before recently retiring and beginning missionary service, Elder Huber was one of Switzerland’s leading disaster management experts, having supervised rigorous, 72-hour computer simulations of massive earthquakes. Those simulations helped the Swiss government prepare to deal with disaster conditions much like those in Turkey and Syria.

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The Hubers traveled to Turkey as soon as it was safe to get an accurate on-site assessment of how the Church could supply immediate relief, with several initial projects designed and approved by the Church based on their early evaluations.

But Elder Huber continued to assess the situation and reflect on its ongoing gravity. “The needs of these people are great,” he said. “I must think big. I cannot be shy.”

Most of the city of Antakya, Turkey, having a population of 400,000 people, was destroyed by the Feb. 6, 2023, earthquakes. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The result was the launch of various projects, including providing 50,000 hygiene boxes and 50,000 food boxes, each supporting four to six people for a week. The food boxes contain products suited to the dietary requirements of Ramadan, the month-long holy season observed by the Muslim faith that this year runs from March 22 to April 20.

Items for the food boxes will be purchased from local vendors with Church funds, with AFAD arranging transportation and delivery.

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Also, the Church has ordered four large, self-contained mobile medical clinics, with each consisting of four containers — OB-GYN, laboratory, sanitary and x-ray. They are supported by several large tents for triage, examination and in-patient care.

The facilities will be delivered complete with generator, air filtering, air conditioning, heat, water purification and all necessary medical equipment and supplies, with staffing by medical providers arranged through the Turkish Ministry of Health.

Three such mobile clinics — donated by the Church eight years ago to help Syrian refugees — were miraculously located intact and will be sent to serve the earthquake victims.

Conceptual design of a mobile clinic for emergencies, with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donating such clinics to Turkey following the Feb. 6, 2023, earthquakes. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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