Running towards a rebuilt future
UNICEF is on the ground to ensure that children are getting the protection and support they need to recover and to rebuild their lives through UNICEF-supported hubs
Osmaniye, Türkiye – “On the day of the earthquake, I was actually going to school, I had prepared my bag and clothes before I went to sleep. When I woke up at night, I didn't understand what happened, I don't remember how we went out, how we got into our car, it was like it happened in my dream,” Meryem says, taking a break from the multiplication table she has been working on at a UNICEF-supported child friendly space at Cevdetiye Temporary Accommodation Center in Osmaniye, Türkiye.
Meryem is a nine-year-old child who is always smiling and full of life. Her school and home were damaged by the February earthquakes that struck Türkiye, when more than 920 schools were gravely damaged or destroyed and more than 1.6 million people lost their homes.
“When they told me I couldn't go to school because my school was damaged, I was very sad because I loved my school very much,” Meryem says, now, with a hint of sadness in her eyes.
“We stayed for a week outside. Our home was really damaged. They gave us a container and we came here. Since then, we have been living here. I live in a container here with my mother, father, and three siblings.”
Smiling broadly, she tells us about her daily routine at the Cevdetiye Temporary Accommodation Center, “I wake up at 7 in the morning. I have breakfast and then go to school. We play games at school. We study. When I go home in the evening, I have dinner, play, study, read.”
Meryem says that she wants to be a teacher, saying that “I really like teaching. I teach things to my siblings all the time, just like our teacher here.”
Meryem is one of the thousands of children who are receiving psychosocial support in UNICEF supported child, adolescent and family hubs.
“At first, I was a stranger in this new place, but my teacher here was very nice to me and shared her food with me. I have friends here now. So, I am happy here too, but I still miss my school a lot,” she adds, leaving us to play catch with her friends.
UNICEF is working in partnership with the Türkiye Development Foundation (TKV) and Turkish Red Crescent, with financial support from UNICEF Netherlands to ensure that children, adolescents and their families are getting the protection and support they need to recover and to rebuild their lives through UNICEF-supported child, adolescent and family support hubs.
The child friendly space in Osmaniye, is one of those hubs for children like Meryem, who survived the two earthquakes that struck south-east Türkiye and northern Syria in the early hours of 6 February 2023. In Türkiye, the 7.7 and 7.5 magnitude earthquakes affected 11 provinces with a population of 13.5 million Turkish citizens and 1.7 million registered refugees, including 5.4 million children – 811,000 of whom are refugees.
For those who cannot attend the Hubs, UNICEF is working with partners to take these services to the community, by mobile vans and trucks. These vans and trucks are visiting communities and children are receiving psychosocial support through mobile, child friendly spaces in even the places that are hardest to reach.
UNICEF is working around the clock to expand the centers and provide temporary education spaces, while collaborating with the government to rebuild better and more environmentally friendly schools in the affected areas.
Nearly three months after the earthquakes, the needs are still immense as 2.5 million children in Türkiye are still in need of humanitarian assistance. UNICEF in Türkiye is appealing for an $196 million to support children affected by the earthquakes with a funding gap of 44% (87 million USD) needed to meet this target.
UNICEF calls on donors to ensure this assistance is provided through flexible funding and is released in a timely way to allow UNICEF and partners to respond to changing needs with rapid and sustained action.