Devastating earthquakes strike Syria and Türkiye
Millions of children are in need of urgent humanitarian support.
More than a month since two devastating earthquakes and numerous aftershocks hit south-east Türkiye and Syria, millions of children remain in need of urgent humanitarian support.
The collective death toll is now more than 50,000, while more than 850,000 children remain displaced after being forced from their damaged or destroyed homes. Many families are now living in temporary shelters. The earthquakes have also caused widespread damage to schools and other essential infrastructure, further jeopardizing the well-being of children and families. Access to safe water and sanitation is also a major concern, as are the health needs of the affected population.
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How UNICEF is responding to the earthquakes
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 Syria, where children already face one of the most complex humanitarian situations in the world, UNICEF has been stepping up humanitarian assistance to children and families affected, in coordination with partners, whilst assessing the impact of the earthquakes.
UNICEF has reached almost half a million people with lifesaving water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services and supplies, including through water trucking, solid waste management, desludging of septic tanks, and the provision of family hygiene kits and other lifesaving supplies across Syria. Almost 300,000 people, including those taking refuge in shelters, have been reached with essential supplies and medical consultations through UNICEF-supported health centres and mobile health teams. Meanwhile, more than 130,000 under five-year-old children have been supported with nutrition services across the earthquake-affected areas.
In Türkiye, UNICEF’s response is focusing on providing psychosocial support to children and families affected, setting up child friendly and temporary learning spaces, identifying separated and unaccompanied children and reuniting them with their families or caregivers, assessing damage to water stations and services, as well as evaluating health and nutrition needs of affected people.
UNICEF has distributed winter clothes, electrical heaters and blankets to more than 270,000 people, including more than 160,000 children. Working closely with the Ministry of Health, UNICEF is procuring life-saving vaccines and cold chain storage equipment. UNICEF has also been setting up child-friendly spaces near temporary accommodation centres and has so far provided psychosocial first aid and recreational activities to almost 200,000 people.
UNICEF in emergencies
UNICEF is on the ground before, during, and after emergencies, working to reach children and families with lifesaving aid and long-term assistance.
When a sudden onset emergency such as an earthquake or hurricane strikes, it's children who suffer first and suffer most. At the onset of an emergency – whether it’s a conflict or a natural disaster – UNICEF is capable of delivering pre-positioned life-saving supplies within 72 hours from a network of supply hubs around the world.
In emergencies, children suffer first, and most.
But the work does not stop at delivery. UNICEF works with Governments and partners to ensure assistance continues to have a positive impact in the long term, so that children can hope to enjoy healthy lives and fulfill their dreams.
Read more about UNICEF’s work in emergencies and its latest humanitarian appeal to support conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition, education, health and protection services.