Two months on from Türkiye earthquakes, enormous challenges remain for 2.5 million children in need of humanitarian support
Additional assistance is needed as many children in Türkiye face threat of poverty, child labour or child marriage
ANKARA, 6 April 2023 - Two months after two devastating earthquakes hit Türkiye and northern Syria, 2.5 million children in Türkiye remain in need of humanitarian support and are at risk of falling into poverty, child labour or child marriage, UNICEF warned today.
“Children had their lives turned upside down by the earthquakes, and while the humanitarian response was swift and significant, the reality is that the immediate futures of millions of children remain uncertain, with families’ ability to begin picking up the pieces of their lives severely hampered,” said Regina De Dominicis, UNICEF Representative in Türkiye. “More support is vital to ensure children are protected and their needs are met as a central part of the recovery.”
While the Government of Türkiye and humanitarian partners continue working to meet the most urgent needs and provide basic services, families also need longer-term support to recover and begin to rebuild their lives. Children must be front and centre of the recovery efforts so they are not impacted by the disaster for years or even decades to come.
As part of the immediate response, UNICEF has worked closely with partners to prevent family separation and support reunification and reached more than 149,000 children and caregivers with psychosocial support. These efforts must continue and child protection services must be maintained without interruption.
UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Health with the provision of vaccines including for polio (to cover 360,000 children) and for diphtheria and tetanus (to cover more than 283,000 children). UNICEF is also providing additional medical equipment and supplies.
More than 390,000 people have been given hygiene kits, winter clothes, electrical heaters and blankets. Access to safe and clean water also remains a major concern while damaged water networks are repaired. UNICEF has delivered water to thousands of people and is quickly scaling up this work with partners.
Further, UNICEF has established 37 hubs for child, adolescent and family support in ten provinces to provide psychosocial support, catch-up classes, homework support, and protection services. Nearly 26,000 children and caregivers have been reached to date through these hubs. Around 5,000 UNICEF-trained youth volunteers from the Ministry of Youth and Sports will help to provide life skills activities in these hubs, as well as support for adolescent engagement and participation.
The earthquakes impacted the lives of nearly four million children enrolled in school, including 350,000 refugee and migrant children. Nearly 1.5 million children have resumed their education in earthquake-affected areas, with another 250,000 children continuing their education after relocating elsewhere in the country. However, many others have not yet regained full access to learning, with formal schooling in the most affected provinces still reopening.
UNICEF is providing financial support to repair more than 1,170 schools, which will benefit more than 300,000 children, and supporting the Ministry of National Education with temporary measures, among them more than 400 tents for learning including catch-up classes and exam preparation, benefiting around 23,000 children per day, and prefabricated classrooms or administrator rooms. One thousand school counsellors and teachers are being trained to identify children in need of psychosocial support.
UNICEF in Türkiye is appealing for an additional $138 million to continue its work supporting children affected by the earthquakes, and calls on donors to ensure this assistance is provided through flexible funding and is released in a timely way to allow for UNICEF and its partners to respond to changing needs with rapid and sustained action.
UNICEF is also calling on the international community to ensure children’s needs are prioritized within the funding allocations to support child-centred response and recovery, recognizing that children are among the most vulnerable.