Bishop Paolo Bizzetti, Vicar Apostolic of Anatolia, describes the reality on the ground following the two devastating earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria, saying people have united in faith amid the tragedy.
By Francesca Merlo
The situation in Turkey and Syria following Monday’s two devastating earthquakes is getting worse and worse.
Bishop Paolo Bizzatti, the Vicar Apostolic of Anatolia in Turkey, offered that confirmation of the situation on the ground in his role as the President of Caritas in the area.
Bishop Bizzetti also confirmed reports of people sleeping on the streets, in sub-zero temperatures, explaining that even those with shelter have neither electricity nor water.
Speaking to the Osservatore Romano’s Beatrice Guarrera, Bishop Bizzetti said the area is facing a serious emergency here which is “far from over”.
Despite the difficulty, he added, “people are uniting in solidarity”.
Poorest pay the highest price
Bishop Bizzetti went into detail about some of the thousands of people who have been affected by the distaster. “Of course, the poorest are the ones who pay the highest price,” he said.
The affected area is home to many refugees: Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. “Southern Turkey is full of refugees from various countries who have fled terrible situations,” he noted.
For refugees, Bishop Bizzetti said, “it’s a tragedy within a tragedy”, while for those who are not refugees, this disaster marks “a huge turning point in their lives.”
As always in these circumstances there is a sense of bewilderment, confusion, and loss, while the little hope people had now suddenly seems lost.
However, said Bishop Bizzetti, solidarity has been pouring in with Caritas Turkey seeking to provide life-saving aid.
“It is difficult to receive the aid necessary given the state of the roads,” he said, adding that Caritas needs to make sure it organises the aid properly in order to avoid the common experience where “a lot arrives on the first two days, after which you are in a situation of hardship.”
“Our priority is to raise funds in such a way that we can then methodically space the aid,” he said.
We are in God’s hands
We thank God, concluded the Bishop, that “the people are people of faith, and there is a strong sense of being in God’s hands.
Even on Monday, after the earthquakes, local communities “celebrated the Eucharist; people are praying, and their faith is a great help.”