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"Did God send the earthquake as a punishment for sin?"

by Glyn Jones

A Christian aid agency in Syria says some local Christians are questioning whether God sent the earthquake - which killed more than 30,000 people across Turkey and Syria - as a punishment.

Malik Jacoub, from the Syriac Cross Organisation says, "maybe some of them, they know there are a lot of sins.

"They think that God punishes our people and punishes the community because they are far from God."

The Christian aid worker says he tries to comfort people and reassure them that God loves them.

"We try to encourage them. He will send groups to give us morale, to give us wisdom and to protect us."

North western Syria has suffered from years of civil war and unrest. The effects of the earthquake are made worse by the humanitarian crisis already affecting the disputed area - parts of which are controlled by rebel opponents of the Damascus government.

Some estimates put the number of people made homeless by the earthquake at five million in Syria alone.

Jacoub says churches and mosques have opened their doors to families whose houses and apartment blocks have been destroyed.

"The churches opened their doors. At least they have walls and a roof. So the people can at least protect themselves from another earth quake."

Groups like the Syriac Cross Organisation are then helping the churches to provide basic humanitarian aid.  

"Maybe providing them with blankets, mattresses and food. They provide water because there is no water any more in Aleppo."

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