February Anniversaries – Myanmar, Ukraine and Türkiye-Syria

Feb 29, 2024


February marks a few anniversaries that most people would rather not celebrate: anniversaries in Myanmar, Ukraine, Syria and Türkiye.

It was on Monday 1 February 2021 that the military in Myanmar regained tight control of that country and the promises of the democratic reforms which commenced in 2011 suddenly seemed a distant dream. Since February 2021, Myanmar has seen a massive increase in armed conflicts across the country, with more than 2.6 million people displaced from their homes and livelihoods. Over 6,000 civilians have been killed.

On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. Since that date, more than 30,000 civilians have been killed. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian and Russian soldiers are either dead or injured.

Then, on 6 February 2023, a massive earthquake occurred in parts of Türkiye and northern Syria, leaving more than 50,000 people dead and injuring a further 100,000.

For most of the people affected by these events, the pain continues.

And yet, amidst the devastation, there is hope and stories of great courage. AID has been humbled by the prayers and donations it has received from our supporters for all three of these catastrophes. We have been inspired by the work of our partners in providing relief to many of those affected and assisting with ongoing reconstruction where that is possible.

You can read the latest story about the work of AID’s partner, the Church of the Province of Myanmar (CPM) in supporting and encouraging people who have lost homes and livelihoods to the ongoing conflict here. Both AID and CPM deeply appreciate your prayers and support of the people who continue to be displaced within Myanmar.

In Ukraine and neighbouring countries, ACT Alliance, of which AID is a member, has been assisting refugees and other displaced people since the start of the war. ACT has just made a video celebrating people’s bravery, resilience and solidarity and thanking those who have given to support this response. Importantly, the video mentions the vital role of the church in supporting and comforting people during this crisis.

Finally, in Syria, where most of the funds raised by AID’s Türkiye-Syria Earthquake appeal have been deployed by ACT Alliance members including members of the Middle East Council of Churches such as GOPA-DERD[1], we share with you both a video and the stories below, to mark the first anniversary of this disaster.

Two stories of hope from northern Syria

Mrs. Yazi Hamoud, a breadwinner for her family of seven, has faced significant challenges. Her husband has been suffering from a heart condition for about five years. Before the earthquake, they lived in Aleppo’s Middan area. When the earthquake hit, they had to leave their home, and after a month and a half of moving between mosques and parks, they found refuge in the Bayroni Centre.

While staying at the shelter, Mrs. Yazi felt isolated from her family and other women. Despite participating in the “Cash for Work” program provided by GOPA-DERD, as the sole provider for her family, she struggled with her sense of isolation. She was invited to attend awareness sessions on self-care and coping strategies conducted by the protection team from GOPA-DERD. Initially reserved, she gradually opened up during the sessions. She then expressed her eagerness for these sessions, stating that they gave her a sense of security she had long been missing.

During the awareness sessions, Mrs. Yazi became more capable of dealing with the pressures of daily life. She started interacting more with her family and surroundings. She shared, “I’ve noticed that I am handling my children and family better because I have started to understand myself better.”

Mr Maamar tragically lost his wife and three of his children in the earthquake. His surviving children are in good health, continuing their education. He suffered severe injuries during the earthquake, breaking his teeth and fracturing his foot. He lost his job and now uses crutches to walk.

For Mr Maamar, hope came in the form of cash grants provided by GOPA-DERD. With the funds, Mr. Maamar rented a house in the Helk area to live with his remaining children. Although not enough for full rent, it helped the family avoid homelessness. He expressed his gratitude to the GOPA-DERD team, saying, “When I got money from you, it felt like the whole world.”

Although AID has now closed our appeals for Ukraine and Türkiye-Syria, we continue to seek funds for the ongoing response being provided by CPM in Myanmar. You can learn more about our appeal or donate here.

[1] GOPA-DERD is the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch (Syria) and all the East – Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development.