On this visit, His Holiness was accompanied by H.E. Mor Philoxinous Youssef Cetin, Patriarchal Vicar in Istanbul, Ankara and, Izmir; Mor Gregorious Melki Urek, Patriarchal Vicar in Adyaman and affiliate regions; Mor Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and director of the Media Department; and Raban Andrew Bahi.
His Holiness met with the president of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His Holiness offered Erdogan his condolences in the name of the Syriac Orthodox Church for the human loss following the devastating earthquake, assuring Erdogan that the Syriac Orthodox Church stands in solidarity with the Turkish people in this ordeal.
His Holiness and the accompanying delegation travelled around the afflicted city, inspecting the affairs of those affected by this disaster, familiarizing themselves with their needs, simultaneously consoling and encouraging them, thus, “embedding hope in their hearts, hope and faith that will never disappoint,” said the message of His Holiness and the accompanying delegation. “Further, and with a heavy heart, they witnessed the terrible destruction as they saw the destroyed buildings, and entire neighborhoods that have been lost.”
On the ground, His Holiness was briefed by the emergency teams, governmental and humanitarian bodies, and organizations, on the progress of relief work from the ongoing rescue operations and securing shelters for the thousands whose homes were destroyed or damaged, as well as providing urgent and necessary assistance in such an extremely difficult circumstance.
His Holiness visited the destroyed churches, especially the historic Church of St Peter the Apostle, and raised prayers for the comfort of the souls of all the victims of this earthquake, condolences, and peace to the hearts of their relatives and their families, a request for a speedy recovery for all the injured, support for all the afflicted, and support for all relief teams working for the aid of citizens and refugees. “His Holiness also thanked Our Lord and God Jesus Christ for the mighty hand and the miraculous miracles that appeared in the recent period that were manifested in the rescue and recovery of hundreds alive from under the rubble, even after nearly two weeks had passed since the disaster,” reads the message.
H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II visits Antioch, extends heartfelt condolences (WCC news release, 21 February 2023)
WCC to member churches in Syria: “We stand with you in prayer and support” (WVV news release, 20 February 2023)
Churches appeal for aid as response to Turkey-Syria earthquake expands (WCC news release, 08 February 2023)