Syrian-Canadians host vigil in Mississauga to get help for many quake victims

Published February 10, 2023 at 5:53 pm

Syrian-Canadians will host a vigil on Sunday at Celebration Square in downtown Mississauga.

Syrian-Canadians from Mississauga and across the GTA will hold a vigil this Sunday afternoon (Feb. 12) in the city’s downtown core in efforts to get more Canadian help for the many victims of the devastating earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey earlier this week.

Organizers say the vigil, to take place from noon to 1 p.m. at Celebration Square, is open to all people and seeks to bring more attention to the devastation in Syria and, as a result, more financial help from Canada.

The death toll now stands at 23,700 in the wake of the catastrophic 7.8-magnitude early-morning quake that struck four days ago in southern Turkey and northwest Syria while most people slept.

While the vast majority of victims, nearly 20,000, perished in Turkey, many Syrian families have been devastated as well.

Temperatures remain below freezing across the large region, and many people have no place to shelter. The Turkish government has distributed millions of hot meals, as well as tents and blankets, but is still struggling to reach many people in need.

The situation is similar, if not worse, in Syria.

“The (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau government was relatively quick to respond with aid for the overwhelming crisis in Turkey, but virtually silent about help for the thousands of victims in neighbouring Syria,” vigil organizers say, adding Canadian economic sanctions against Syria have had terrible consequences for Syrians, having “…destroyed Syria’s economy and impoverished the people, many of whom fled the countries as refugees to Europe and Canada. Our families in Syria exist without jobs, adequate food, heating and electricity.”

Vigil organizers and others in their community are calling on Canada and other countries to remove sanctions on Syria, which have been in place since 2013.

They note that the United States has relaxed some of its sanctions against Syria for six months in order to facilitate the flow of aid to earthquake-devastated cities such as Aleppo and Latakia.

Vigil organizers also hope that individual Canadians will donate to the Syrian Support Movement International to help victims of the devastating quake.

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