Kinder in einer Notunterkunft an der syrisch-türkischen Grenze

Earthquakes on the Syrian–Turkish border

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Severe earthquakes on the Syrian–Turkish border

One year ago, on February 6, 2023, devastating earthquakes hit the border region between Turkey and Syria. More than 50,000 lives were lost. The massive destruction left the affected population in urgent need of humanitarian aid – including more than ten million children. UNICEF is still working in the earthquake region and providing long-term aid.

A number of strong tremors in succession on the Syria-Turkey border destroyed important infrastructure such as schools and hospitals in the night of February 6, 2023. Many homes were also razed to the ground. Hundreds of thousands of people are affected by the massive destruction. Children and families lack food, clean drinking water, medical supplies, psychosocial care and accommodation. Countless children still remain in emergency accommodation in the earthquake-hit regions. The majority of the population has absolutely no defenses against the icy cold, particularly in the cold winter months when temperatures regularly drop below freezing point.

Anatole Taubman

“What I saw there left me deeply moved. UNICEF is providing lifesaving aid to children and young people who lost everything in the earthquake on February 6, 2023.”

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Anatole Taubman, after his trip to the Turkish-Syrian border in January 2024

The situation is particularly dramatic in Syria. The majority of the population had already lost everything after more than twelve years of civil war, mass displacement, an infrastructure in ruins and the escalating economic crisis. The devastating earthquake a year ago led to a further deterioration in the situation. In particular, the traumatic experiences and a lack of access to basic services present a major risk to millions of Syrian children. More than 15.3 million people – almost half of them children – are in urgent need of help.

UNICEF has been on the ground in northern Syria and other parts of the country for many years. A year after the disaster, UNICEF is still working in the provinces damaged by the earthquake to also support the children and families affected by the longer-term consequences of the earthquake. The focus at all times is on psychosocial support and the children’s welfare. UNICEF, together with its partner organizations, offers a variety of activities and programs that allow children to learn partly through play, express their emotions and process their traumatic experiences. In addition, the deployment of inpatient and mobile medical teams provides safe and sustainable access to health services: caring for malnourished children also has priority here.

Eine Gruppe von Kindern nimmt an einer Gruppenaktivität teil.

Psychosocial support: Together with partner organizations, UNICEF ensures children’s physical and mental health in emergency accommodation and child-friendly spaces. The support includes activities intended to help the children and their families express their feelings and emotions and process traumatic experiences more effectively.

Ein Mädchen trinkt sauberes Wasser.

Water supply: Because the water supply has broken down at many points due to the destruction of pipelines and damage to water pumps, UNICEF delivers clean drinking water to the affected areas. UNICEF also drives forward the renovation and repair of the required infrastructure, and enables access to sanitary facilities to prevent illnesses such as cholera.

Ein kleiner Junge wird von einer Ärztin untersucht.

Medical care: Mobile medical teams or medical personnel in health service establishments examine children for acute malnutrition. They provide micronutrient compounds to help acutely malnourished children regain their strength quickly. Two-year-old Yazan is one of the children being examined in a hospital in Syria supported by UNICEF. “This hospital is the only healthcare provider in the area. It offers free services, medical supplies, X-rays and blood tests,” his mother explains.

Ein kleiner Junge packt eine UNICEF-Hilfspaket aus.

Hygiene: UNICEF distributes hygiene kits containing canisters for clean water, soap, washing powder, babies’ diapers, sanitary pads and refuse bags in northern Syria. One aim here is to stem the outbreak and spread of infectious diseases. Three-year-old Mohmad and his family also receive the kits. “He likes to open these boxes because he knows he’ll find something for him, probably his diapers!” says his mother.

Ein kleiner Junge hält ein Malbuch in die Kamera.

Education: UNICEF provides school materials and leisure and playtime kits that are distributed to schools and emergency accommodation. In addition, UNICEF supports clearance and repair work for damaged school buildings. Four-year-old Ameer from Syria proudly shows the coloring book he got from UNICEF. He lives with his family in a former school that now serves as emergency accommodation.

In Turkey, UNICEF continues to do everything in its power to make sure that the affected children and families receive the support that they urgently need. UNICEF’s activities focus on reviewing the key water supply points and services as well as health and nutrition requirements. The focus here includes ensuring access to routine vaccinations by delivering vaccines to the Ministry of Health. UNICEF also distributes critical emergency supplies to families, such as blankets, winter clothing and hygiene kits. Child protection also has a high priority for UNICEF in Turkey. First and foremost, this includes psychosocial support for traumatized children by means of a variety of programs, in both emergency accommodation and child friendly spaces.

Earthquakes on the Syrian–Turkish border

Your donation makes a difference!

  • Hygiene kit for one family for CHF 53
  • 48 rations of emergency food for CHF 104
  • 5 first aid kits for CHF 155
How much would you like to donate?