Irish solidarity with Syrian earthquake victims

February 13, 2023 in Featured News, News

Irish Jesuits International has received over €150,000 in donations from people anxious to help the suffering people of Syria. John Guiney SJ, Director of IJI says, “The generosity of the Irish people as expressed by the hundreds of people who called our IJI office in the past week and/or transferred their donation via bank, letter or hand is deeply touching. Irish solidarity with the suffering is enduring.”

Fr Guiney noted that the presence of Tony O’Riordan SJ, Director of JRS Syria, stirred peoples’ hearts with his multiple and up-to-date media communications, on the ground in Aleppo. “This link with Tony, facilitated and mediated by IJI and, helped to bring in over 150K for the people of Syria. Contributions continue to flow in from individuals, organizations, schools, and groups. Míle buiochas.”

You can donate here » Or call IJI at 00 353 1 8366509

Tony has also expressed his deep gratitude for the money donated which goes directly into buying food, and providing shelter and counselling for those affected by the earthquake last week and the follow-up smaller quakes yesterday, Monday 20 February 2023.

“€1000 will feed 20 families for a month,” says Tony, speaking from Aleppo. “So every single euro is appreciated and put to good use here,” he says.

Most importantly, Tony adds, is that when he tells the people in Syria what people in Ireland are doing, trying to help them, the impact is profound. “It’s inspirational for them because they had suffered so much during and after the war that they had built up some kind of resilience or protection. Then the earthquake came and tore through the remnants of any coping mechanisms they had left. So when they hear stories of how people far away really care for them and are working to help them then it really touches them. It brings to mind for me the line that was said of St Paul when he visited a weary early Chrisitan community,’ He put fresh heart into the disciples”.

As noted by John Guiney SJ, Tony has been receiving widespread coverage for his work with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Syria following the earthquake which has claimed almost 34.000 lives there and in Turkey. A further twenty million are homeless, without shelter or medicines. In response to his media appeals donations big and small from people all over Ireland and further afield have been flowing into the IJI special fund.

Listen here to an interview Tony gave » this morning (Friday 17 February) on Galway Bay FM with Ketih Finnega. Listen here to his update on Morning Ireland » RTE Radio One on Monday 13 February.

Tony has used the media opportunities to appeal for funds for the JRS and their work in areas of devastation such as Aleppo. He says even one euro can provide a hot meal for a hungry survivor and he said any money donated to JRS will go straight toward helping all those suffering so much. He told Audrey Carville of ‘Morning Ireland’ that the people of Syria, who have suffered so much, need the people of the world to stand with them now in solidarity and support.

“We have rolled this out to about 700 people already and they are reporting significant improvement in their sense of well-being as a result,” he said.

In a previous interview with Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit News » before he returned to Syria at the end of the summer Tony referenced how people in the country felt they were ‘living in hell’. Now he says, after the terror of the earthquake and the freezing temperatures they have to endure, they are living in “the deepest levels of hell.”

Speaking to the Irish Times » he said the people of Aleppo “are in deep shock and their sense of safety and security has collapsed along with many of the buildings.”

In a widely syndicated interview given to David Raleigh » Tony explained how he witnessed a large articulated truck” with body bags arriving in the city, adding that a “heartbroken family” approached the truck seeking to find a lost loved one.

He also recounted speaking to a man at an emergency center who had spent 12 hours talking to his brother and other family members who were trapped in the rubble.

“Unfortunately that family perished,”

“It is heartbreaking but so encouraging to see Syrian people – who have been pounded by war, hunger, crippling poverty, and now hit by this – still standing with each other and doing what they can.”