One week on from devastating earthquakes, millions of children remain in need of urgent humanitarian assistance

4.6 million children are living in affected areas in Türkiye, with another 2.5 million children affected in Syria

14 February 2023
Седмица след земетресенията в Турция и Сирия: Милиони деца се нуждаят от спешна хуманитарна помощ
Семейство в Турция, пострадало след земетресенията на 6-ти февруари, стои пред огън на улицата, за да се стопли

NEW YORK/AMMAN/GENEVA/SOFIA, 14 February 2023 – Seven days after two devastating earthquakes and more than 1,600 aftershocks hit south-east Türkiye and Syria – causing widespread destruction and taking the lives of thousands of people – UNICEF is warning that millions of children are in need of urgent humanitarian support.

While the total number of children affected remains unclear, 4.6 million children live in the 10 provinces of Türkiye hit by the earthquakes, and more than 2.5 million children are affected in Syria.

"The children and families of Türkiye and Syria are facing unimaginable hardship in the aftermath of these devastating earthquakes," said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.  “We must do everything in our power to ensure that everyone who survived this catastrophe receives life-saving support, including safe water, sanitation, critical nutrition and health supplies, and support for children's mental health. Not only now, but over the long term.”

The number of children killed and injured during the quakes and their aftermath has not yet been confirmed but is likely to be in the many thousands. The official total death toll has now passed 35,000.

UNICEF Bulgaria has already launched a fundraising campaign to help the children and families affected by the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria. Everyone can support UNICEF’s efforts by sending an SMS with the text UNICEF to 1021 and donating 5 leva one-off (VAT and fees are not charged to subscribers of all mobile operators). Everyone can also donate at Part of the donations received during the three nights of the charity mini-season of ‘Your face sounds familiar for every child’ on NOVA will also go to the children and families in the affected areas in Türkiye and Syria. One lev from each SMS donation will be allocated to support them.

UNICEF has been working around the clock to provide life-saving assistance to those affected by the earthquakes. UNICEF teams on the ground have been working with partners to distribute essential supplies such as critical health supplies, blankets, clothing, and safe drinking water and sanitation supplies, as well as continuing to provide safe spaces for children to play and recover from the traumatic events they have witnessed.

Despite these efforts, the needs of the affected population are enormous, and the challenges are many and complex. Damage and destruction of key roads and infrastructure, along with the freezing conditions, snow, and rain have made it difficult to reach those in need and to provide the necessary aid. Many first responders and staff of UNICEF partner organisations have been killed, injured, displaced, and their offices and equipment destroyed, damaged, or out of commission.

In the coming days and weeks, UNICEF will continue to work with partners to reach as many children and families as possible with life-saving assistance.

In Syria, UNICEF had already prepositioned supplies in northwest Syria, which have started to be distributed to as many people as possible. Immediate priorities include providing access to safe drinking water and sanitation services, which are critical in preventing illness in the early days of a crisis. At present, it is estimated that at least 6 million people have been affected by the earthquake. As many as 5.3 million people in Syria may have been left homeless by the earthquake, according to UNHCR. UNICEF continues to assess the impact on main water stations and identify any interruptions or damage to services provided. UNICEF has deployed Mobile Health and Nutrition teams to provide health and nutrition services and supplies to those in need, including those who have taken refuge in shelters. In Aleppo, UNICEF is also providing 300,000 litres per day of drinking water through emergency water trucking to an estimated 20,000 people in collective shelters and affected neighbourhoods.

In Türkiye, UNICEF’s immediate priority is to ensure children and families affected receive the support they desperately need. UNICEF’s response is focusing on child protection, providing immediate psychosocial support in child friendly spaces, assessing main water stations and services, and health and nutrition needs, distributing winter clothes for children, blankets, and family and travel hygiene kits.

Around 1.1 million people are staying in temporary accommodation centers in the affected areas in Türkiye. Many hospitals, schools, educational facilities have been damaged. More than 2 million school children, including 353,495 refugee children have been impacted by the earthquake.

UNICEF and the Ministry of Youth and Sports are also mobilizing an additional 5,000 youth volunteers to work alongside local response teams. This will complement the over 3,000 youth volunteers already supporting the response. UNICEF with the Ministry of Family and Social Services is procuring 1000 sleeping bags, 1000 power banks and 1000 sleeping chairs for distribution across the 10 affected provinces.

In both Türkiye and Syria, child protection is a high priority for UNICEF, including the identification and reunification of separated and unaccompanied children and providing psychosocial support to children who may have been exposed to traumatizing experiences.

In Syria, UNICEF supported Child Protection mobile teams in Aleppo, Hama and Latakia were redeployed to support displaced families with psychological first aid support, reaching approximately 6,000 children and caregivers.

In Türkiye, UNICEF is also preparing further deployment of Child Protection staff for psychosocial support and child friendly spaces set up support in affected provinces through NGO partners and the Ministry of Youth and Sports.



УНИЦЕФ доставя вода за пострадалите след земетресенията в Сирия и Турция

Media contacts

Boryana Gidikova
Communication Officer
UNICEF Bulgaria
Tel: +359 893 52 52 40


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