Historical church becomes aid collection center for quake survivors
Fevzi Kızılkoyun- HATAY
The historical Mar Circos (Aziz Georgios) Greek Orthodox Church in the southern quake-hit province of Hatay has become an aid collection center where numerous materials are packaged and delivered to quake survivors.
Hatay and its historical district İskenderun are among the places that experienced the most severe destruction in the deadly Feb. 6 earthquakes that claimed the lives of at least 46,104 people.
Many historical and religious structures in Hatay sustained heavy damages in the devastating earthquakes, ruining the history of the region.
Despite the severe destruction in some historical buildings, Mar Circos Church survived the massive tremors with minor damages and became an aid collection center.
Relief materials arriving from across Türkiye and several countries are collected in the historical church and delivered to the earthquake survivors.
In addition to the aid, three meals are provided daily to the quake-affected people.
Providing information regarding the aid efforts in the church, Priest Nikola stated that they started relief efforts just after the earthquakes.
The priest noted that other Christian communities from different parts of the country also supported their efforts in the historical church.
“After the earthquakes, with the support of the Fener Greek Patriarchate [in Istanbul] and the Armenian Patriarchate, as well as the Şişli Municipality [in Istanbul], we provided food and humanitarian aid to about 13,000 people a day,” Priest Nikola expressed.
“Our chefs from Istanbul, Adana and Hatay’s İskenderun district cook voluntarily. We also store and distribute the supplies inside our church,” he said.
About 50 earthquake victims are staying in tents set up in the garden of the historical church.
İskenderun and Antakya districts of Hatay have essential historical importance as the regions have hosted culture, structures and historical sites from several ethnicity and religion, primarily Islamic and Christian buildings.
Most of the 152-year-old Latin Catholic Church in İskenderun was destroyed in the Feb. 6 earthquakes.
While the area where the rituals and funeral ceremonies were held was completely destroyed, the Virgin Marty statue remained standing.
A security strip is being drawn around the church as security forces keep guard in the tent set up right next to the church against possible theft incidents.
The church of Saint Pierre, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus, also remained unaffected by the devastating tremors, though the doors of the church have been locked as a precaution.