Recovering from earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye
Millions of children remain in need of urgent humanitarian support.
Updated 17 May 2023
Three months since two devastating earthquakes and numerous aftershocks hit south-east Türkiye and Syria, millions of children are still in need of urgent humanitarian support. 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 are still internally displaced after being forced from their damaged or destroyed homes and 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. In Syria, UNICEF has also been screening for acute malnutrition.
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, UNICEF has been stepping up humanitarian assistance to children and families affected, in coordination with partners, whilst assessing the impact of the earthquakes.
More than three months since the earthquakes struck, 3.7 million children continue to face desperate conditions and need humanitarian assistance. Almost 1.9 million children have had their education disrupted, with many schools still being used as shelters.
UNICEF remains on the ground, with partners, providing lifesaving assistance to impacted children and families. UNICEF has helped hundreds of thousands of people access safe water for drinking and domestic needs. UNICEF has also helped more than 140,000 children access formal or non-formal education, including early learning, and supported more than 260,000 children, adolescents and caregivers in accessing community-based mental health and psychosocial support.
In Türkiye, UNICEF remains focused on providing life-saving supplies to the 2.5 million children still in need of assistance. During the early recovery, UNICEF’s work will include providing cash assistance to help ease the economic pressures on families; helping students get their learning back on track; and continuing to provide psychosocial support to children and youth.
By mid-May, an estimated 1.6 million people were still living in informal sites or next to their damaged houses, sheltered in tents or makeshift shelters with limited or no access to services. An additional 800,000 people were living in tents in formal settlements across earthquake affected areas. Families in informal settlements are still in need of improved shelter, basic household items and improved water and sanitation services.
UNICEF is providing financial support to help repair schools and is supporting the Ministry of National Education with temporary education measures. These include setting up hundreds of tents for learning activities such as catch-up classes and exam preparation, as well as establishing prefabricated classrooms.
But while UNICEF continues to work with the Government of Türkiye and partners to meet the most urgent needs and provide basic services, families also need longer-term support to recover and begin to rebuild their lives. Ultimately, children must be front and centre of the recovery efforts.
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.