In wake of devastating earthquakes, Bishop Waddell signs off on more Church humanitarian aid in Turkey

The Church donated over $13.5 million by early April, and is now donating housing, medical clinics and more

Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, recently spent two days in earthquake-devastated Turkey, where he signed off on donations, reviewed recent humanitarian aid and learned about additional needs in the area.

At least 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria were killed when magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 earthquakes struck the region on Feb. 6. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded quickly, contributing over $13.5 million in aid by early April through 20 relief projects.

“As we drove through the city of Antakya, I was amazed at the level of destruction. I’ve only seen something like that in pictures from cities bombed during World War II. It was sobering,” Bishop Waddell told

Collapsed buildings in Turkey following earthquakes in May, 2023.
Collapsed buildings in Turkey following earthquakes in May, 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Antakya is the capital of the Hatay Province in the southern part of the country near the Syrian border. The city has also lost its infrastructure, including water, power and sewer lines.

“For all intents and purposes, the city of 400,000 people no longer exists,” Bishop Waddell said. “Most of the houses and factories have collapsed. Those homes and buildings that are still standing will need to be demolished.”

Northwest Syria had already been affected by conflicts in the region, causing around 2.8 million people to be internally displaced and dependent on humanitarian aid. The earthquakes exposed more people to the elements and left them needing help obtaining food, medical care and clean water.

During his time in Turkey on May 10 and 11, Bishop Waddell reviewed results of Church-provided humanitarian assistance and met with Turkish officials about additional support.

He also spent time visiting some temporary housing, including a tent camp and a container camp, and a mobile medical clinic in Payas and mobile clinic factory.

Bishop Waddell signed a letter of donation providing 500 housing containers for displaced people. The containers are each equipped with a toilet and shower and provide families with more privacy than tents. Those staying in tents must use community toilets and showers.

Rows of tents are show with several people walking among them in Turkey after the earthquakes.
Temporary housing for displaced families in Turkey, May, 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church is also providing mobile medical clinics to the region. Three clinics are operational, and a fourth will be delivered soon.

Bishop Waddell also learned of a fifth location where a mobile medical clinic is needed, and that was approved upon his return home. It will be in a town called Oguzeli where the population has swelled to 70,000 from 10,000 as survivors move there seeking refuge.

Additionally, the Church is helping fund repairs for a hospital in Gaziantep that was damaged in the quakes.

While in Turkey, Bishop Waddell also met with Dr. Selami Kilic, director general for E.U. and foreign affairs at the Turkish Ministry of Health, and the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority of Turkey, headquartered in Ankara.

Kilic expressed great appreciation for the Church’s assistance and said the Church has been among the most efficient organizations in its earthquake response, doing what it says it will do.

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