One Year After the Earthquake in Syria and Turkey: Humanitarian Needs Intensify

Save the Children's report from Monday underscores the ongoing impact on millions of children in Syria and Turkey.

On February 6th, 2024, international organizations highlighted the escalating humanitarian crisis a year after the catastrophic earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria exactly a year earlier. These calamities resulted in the tragic loss of nearly 60,000 lives across both nations and led to widespread displacement.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported on Tuesday that the aftermath of the earthquakes plunged numerous individuals into poverty and despair, with thousands still homeless and facing extreme vulnerability. Marking the first anniversary of the disaster, the UNHCR’s findings reveal that over 8.8 million people in Syria alone have been impacted, with many among the tens of thousands displaced already having been displaced before the earthquake.

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In northwestern Syria, over 40,000 individuals displaced by the earthquake continue to reside in 70 temporary shelters. The report also highlights that 1.75 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, particularly in the earthquake-affected regions of Hatay, Kahramanmaraş, and Gaziantep, are still reeling from the disaster’s effects, alongside their Turkish hosts. Despite Turkey’s significant humanitarian response, the report emphasizes that “before the earthquakes, 90% of the refugees could not meet basic needs, relying on informal work, social assistance, or loans.”

The earthquakes have exacerbated urgent needs, including housing, basic amenities, shelter, electricity, healthcare, and communication. The UNHCR noted a “devastating impact on the mental and emotional health of the long-suffering residents,” with many losing family and friends, and entire neighbourhoods reduced to rubble.

Save the Children’s report from Monday underscores the ongoing impact on millions of children in Syria and Turkey, who are experiencing mental health issues. Approximately 6.2 million children were affected by the earthquake, which displaced hundreds of thousands of families. A year on, over 761,000 people, including 205,000 children, have not returned to their homes.

Children are particularly struggling to cope, with 85% of children with disabilities in Syria reporting difficulties in interacting with family, friends, and teachers due to their traumatic experiences. Nearly 70% of children in areas under government control in Syria exhibit signs of sadness, while 30% suffer from nightmares or sleep disturbances.

In Turkey, a survey found that 51% of families observed changes in their children’s psychology or behaviour post-earthquake, with 49% showing signs of anxiety and 21% exhibiting aggressive behaviour.

 

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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