The Dicastery for the Service of Charity, headed by Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, has sent more than 10,000 medical kits to Turkey on behalf of Pope Francis, said a statement published by the Dicastery on March 28, 2023. This aid is intended to support those affected by the earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey on February 6. Since then there have been numerous aftershocks and around 50,000 people have died.
The medicines were delivered over the past two days by two airliners, in collaboration with the Turkish Embassy to the Holy See. The Holy See had already provided immediate relief in the aftermath of the tragedy by sending canned foods, diapers, and other urgently needed materials.
In late February about 10,000 thermal shirts had also been sent to be distributed between Turkey and Syria, to help the population face the cold winter. A shipment of three medicine pallets also occurred on February 23.
In addition to the more than 45,000 deaths officially recorded, the February 6 earthquake caused the displacement of nearly two million people in Turkey. Cities such as Antioch (Antakya) were particularly hard hit, with Christian heritage sites taking a heavy toll.
Several thousand people have also died in neighboring Syria, adding to the trauma of over 12 years of war and deprivation. However, as an indirect consequence of this tragedy, the country has started to open up in recent weeks, and its reintegration into the Arab League could follow the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, scheduled for next April.