Recovering from earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye
Millions of children remain in need of urgent humanitarian support.
Updated 4 August 2023
Six months since two devastating earthquakes and numerous aftershocks hit south-east Türkiye and Syria, millions of children are still in need of assistance. The earthquakes have pushed many families to the brink and left children without access to essential services including safe water, education and medical care.
Millions of people were displaced after being forced from their damaged or destroyed homes and hundreds of thousands of families continue to live in temporary shelters. The earthquakes also caused widespread damage to schools and other essential infrastructure, further jeopardizing the well-being of children and families.
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How UNICEF is responding to the earthquakes
UNICEF has been working around the clock to meet families’ most immediate needs, providing life-saving assistance such as safe water, hygiene kits, and vaccines, as well as well as psychosocial support and temporary learning centres.
Despite these efforts, the needs of the affected populations remain enormous, and the challenges are many and complex. UNICEF will continue to provide support, including working to get children back into learning as soon as possible and helping to ease the economic pressures on their families.
In Syria, where children already face one of the most complex humanitarian situations in the world, millions of children and their families continue to face desperate conditions following the devastating earthquakes. More than 2,100 schools were impacted by the earthquakes, disrupting the educations of hundreds of thousands of children.
UNICEF remains on the ground, with partners, providing lifesaving assistance to impacted children and families. UNICEF has reached around 2.5 million people in earthquake-affected areas with assistance, including trucking in safe water and providing hygiene supplies such as soap, water purification tablets and dignity kits to mitigate the spread of diseases. UNICEF has also reached children with mental health and psychosocial support through mobile teams and community-based centres.
In Türkiye, recovery efforts are still ongoing to aid the almost 4 million children still in need of humanitarian assistance.
By early August, an estimated 1.6 million people were still living in informal sites, sheltered in tents or makeshift shelters with limited or no access to services. An additional 800,000 people were living in tents or containers in more formal settlements across earthquake-affected areas. Even where services are available, they are often not accessible for children with disabilities.
UNICEF is providing financial support to help repair schools and is supporting the Ministry of National Education with temporary education measures. By early August, almost 400,000 children were accessing formal or informal education, including early learning, with UNICEF’s support, while more than 1.1 million had received learning materials.
However, there remains a need for psychosocial support services for children and their caregivers to help them process what they have experienced and mitigate their risk of developing anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
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.