Iranian Christian Refugees Face Uncertain Future in Türkiye: Mission Network News
by Katey Hearth
Türkiye (MNN) — Aid workers in Türkiye, formerly known as Turkey, scramble to set up temporary housing for tens of thousands of earthquake survivors.
According to Associated Press, 36,000 tents have arrived on the ground. Another 51,000 tents and shipping containers are on the way. Last week’s disaster is now the deadliest since Türkiye became a nation in 1923.
Lana Silk of Transform Iran says earthquake survivors in Türkiye include Christian refugees from Iran. “There is a huge Iranian community, whether transient or dislocated, in Turkey. Turkey is one of the few countries Iranians can travel to without a visa, so it’s an automatic first stop,” she explains.
“It’s very difficult to be a Christian in Iran. Many stay as long as they can sustain it, but there comes the point where Christians have to escape or die. Turkey is one of the first places they land.”
All 16 churches in Türkiye connected to Transform Iran’s network made it through the earthquakes unharmed. Silk sent the following update by email:
Our churches in Turkey are made up of those from an Iranian or Afghan background. Almost all are refugees, with many dealing with the challenge of earning a livelihood in a society in which they face discrimination and abuse with little recourse, with high inflation (64% annual rate), and now the impact of this natural disaster.
A church near Gaziantep, one of the hardest-hit cities, “started reaching out to those in need with soup, bread, and so on. But that [work] was shut down by the authorities, and they were all told to evacuate,” Silk says.
Now, they’re all living in stadiums or sports halls in this freezing winter [waiting] to see what the future holds.
You can help Christian refugees in Türkiye through Transform Iran. Learn how here.
Pray that God will meet the needs of believers as they help earthquake survivors.
“There’s a crippling financial need for the Christian community in Turkey today. [Many] Christians that live in Turkey are refugees, and with that comes constraints on how they make a living,” Silk says.
“Now that they can’t [work,] they are losing income daily. There’s no insurance, no sick pay for refugees.”
Originally posted on: Mission Network News.