March 4. 2024. 11:01

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‘A deeply personal disaster’: Goal pays tribute to 28 staff killed in Turkey-Syria earthquake

Twenty-eight staff working with the Irish humanitarian agency Goal, as well as many members of their families, have been confirmed dead following the recent massive earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

Two of the aid workers died in Turkey and 26 were killed in Syria. Goal said a small number of staff in the stricken regions have not yet been unaccounted for.

Fourteen of the workers died in the Syrian city of Harem. Among them was emergency programme manager Mohammed Othman (40), who died alongside his wife and five children when the building they were living in collapsed. The charity described him as “a sympathetic, friendly and kind-hearted” person.

[ Tributes paid to all GOAL 28 staff members ]

His colleague, deputy field logistics manager Mohammed Bostaji (36), died with his wife and four children when their home collapsed. “Mohammad was loved by others, co-operative, committed and successful in his work, with a high degree of respect and humbleness,” Goal said.

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Irish charity Goal names 28 staff members killed in Turkey-Syria earthquake


‘A deeply personal disaster’: Goal pays tribute to 28 staff killed in Turkey-Syria earthquake

‘A deeply personal disaster’: Goal pays tribute to 28 staff killed in Turkey-Syria earthquake

Syria earthquake: ‘There is a very big water scarcity problem,’ Irish aid worker says

Syria earthquake: ‘There is a very big water scarcity problem,’ Irish aid worker says

Turkey-Syria earthquake: Rescue phase ‘coming to a close’, says UN

Turkey-Syria earthquake: Rescue phase ‘coming to a close’, says UN

In all, more than 41,000 people are confirmed to have died following the February 6th quake and aftershocks, with that number expected to rise significantly as the relief effort goes on.

Goal chief executive Siobhan Walsh described it as “a deeply personal disaster and profoundly difficult time” for the charity.

“We have lost 26 dear colleagues from our programme in northwest Syria and two dear colleagues from our programme in Turkey and, as of today, we still have a small number of colleagues that are as yet unaccounted for,” she said.

Ms Walsh said the scale of the agency’s loss was “one we have never experienced in our history and the depth of destruction is one never witnessed before in our Middle East operations”. She said the staff who died were owed “an enormous debt of gratitude”.

Amid the “absolutely heartbreaking circumstances” created by the disaster, she said surviving Goal staff on the ground in the affected regions were showing “continued solidarity with our colleagues, their families and all of the communities” suffering following the tragedy.

As a tribute to the staff who died and “the legacy of kindness and compassion that they leave as humanitarians who served these already most fragile of communities”, Ms Walsh said Goal was releasing “a little on who they were, a little about their lives and families”. The agency has published an online book of condolence in their memory and the charity’s chief executive appealed to people to share messages of sympathy.

Among signatories to date is President Michael D Higgins, who wrote that he was “deeply saddened” at the loss of so many Goal staff. “All those who have been lost and injured remain in my thoughts and I wish you all the strength and courage needed as you continue to support those affected, and in all your other work,” he said.

Other goal staff killed in Harem included markets team members Ali Shareef (32), Mohammed Haj Shaaban (36) and Ahmad Shaaban (43). Each man died along with his wife and three children. Their colleague Mohammed Ebraheem (35), who Goal said left “behind a huge gap and many memories”, was killed along with his wife and daughter.

Compliance team member Suliman Berri (34) and his wife, daughter and one of their two sons died when their residence collapsed, as did emergency team member Mohammed Alahmad (38), his wife and three children. Administrative assistant Mohammed Alshab (46) died with his wife, daughter and a son, with another son, aged four, surviving the disaster. Markets team member Yasmin Ibrahim (34) died in Harem with her husband and son.

Team leader Nour Alelaiwi (33) died in the village of Azmarin, near Harem, with her husband and two children. Goal said she was “frank and had a strong personality, always striving for excellence”. Accountability assistant Saer Mughlaj (40) died with his wife, while driver Jameel Khadra (50) and his wife and four children also died as a result of the earthquake.

Team member Asmaa Al Hayek (34) died with her husband and four children. “An ideal mother, she was ambitious, kind-hearted, tolerant to the extreme, carrying the innocence of a child, and loved to help as much as she can,” Goal said.

In the village of Azmarin, beneficiary selection manager Khaled Basleh (39) died with his wife and four children. Shelter data assistant Ahmad Ghandour (38), who the charity said was always ready to “offer a helping hand to those in need”, died with his wife and three children. Markets team member Khadija Kore (36) died with her husband and two daughters.

In Salqeen city, cash and vouchers assistant Ahmad Witty (35) died with his wife and two daughters, as did M&E team member Ebraheem Koronfol (35) with his wife and two sons. Cash and voucher assistance team member Bayan Kosa (35) and her son died in the tragedy but her husband and daughter survived.

Complaints and response mechanism manager Abdulrahman Termaniny (34), remembered as “sociable, balanced and optimistic” by the charity, died in Salqeen city with his wife. Complaints and response team member Kareman Kayyali (31) died along with her parents, three sisters and three brothers.

Promotion team member Tareq Alothman (30) died in the village of Bsanya with his wife and three children, while electrical engineer Abdullah Haj Ibrahim (36) died in the village of Millis, near Idlib city, with his wife and three-month-old daughter.

Driver Abdullah Aldebl (32), who “cared about his work and serving others”, died in Kafar Takharim city where he lived with his pregnant wife and two sons. Driver Terky Hamam (34) died in the village of Kafarhoom with his four-year-old son. His pregnant wife survived but was badly injured.

In Turkey, roving premises and logistics officer Emre Tumanalioglu (34), a “kind, humble and respectful” person, died along with his mother in the city of Antakya. Recently married management information officer Nisa Melis Tek (29), who dealt “with those around her simply and humbly”, died with her husband in Antakya also.