TÜRKIYE/SYRIA – ONE IN 3 CHILDREN DISPLACED BY TÜRKIYE EARTHQUAKES STILL HOMELESS WHILE NEEDS AT RECORD LEVELS IN SYRIA
ISTANBUL/ AMMAN, 5 February 2024 – One in three children who lost their homes in the Türkiye earthquakes a year ago are still living in temporary shelters. Children in both Türkiye and Syria have also struggled with anxiety and other mental health issues since the disaster, Save the Children said.
Two massive earthquakes and aftershocks in Türkiye and Syria last February killed over 56,000  people and displaced millions with about 6.2 million children impacted.
In Türkiye, about 2.4 million people , including 660,000 children , were forced from their homes into temporary settlements living in tents and metal containers as narrow as parking a space. One year on, over 761,000 people, including 205,000 children, are yet to return home .
While Turkish authorities are trying to move people to formal housing areas, almost half (355,000) of those displaced are in informal, unregulated sites, often made up of small tents or metal containers, some as small as 3x7 metres .
While in Syria, children who survived the earthquake have faced an economic crisis and an escalation in conflict, further damaging schools and health centres. Thousands are now without access to shelter and food, and much of the assistance from the UN World Food Programme in earthquake-affected areas has been suspended .
Children are also struggling to process and cope with everything they have endured. In the aftermath of the earthquakes, 85% of children with disabilities that spoke to Save the Children’s partners in Syria reported difficulties interacting with their families, friends, teachers and others because of their experiences during the earthquakes .
Almost 70% of respondents in five government-controlled areas of Syria reported 'sadness' among children, with about 30% noting cases of children having nightmares and/or difficulty sleeping, according to an assessment by Save the Children .
In four earthquake-affected areas in Türkiye, half of surveyed households (51%) reported changes in their children’s psychology or behaviour following the earthquakes, with 49% displaying signs of anxiety and 21% exhibiting aggressive behaviour, according to a survey by Save the Children .
Asli*, 9, who lives in a tent near Adıyaman, Türkiye, with her parents:
“I’m 9 years old. I live in a tent with my mum and dad. The earthquake happened and our house was destroyed … Sometimes the tent gets really warm or really cold … That’s why it’s bad. The showers are outside. I would like to have our home [back]. I would like [it if] my grandpa and grandma didn’t die.”
An assessment by Save the Children of families living in formal and informal sites in Türkiye found 60% were struggling to get basic hygiene items . People living in one in four neighbourhoods in informal sites say they don’t have sufficient access to water, according to the UN.
While most displaced families were able to send their children back to school in Türkiye, 30% of parents were struggling with the costs, according to Save the Children’s analysis .
Nearly 1.5 million more people in Syria need humanitarian assistance this year- 45% of whom are children. This means a total of 16.7 million people – nearly 90% of the population - now need aid which is the highest number since the war began in Syria 13 years ago.
In Syria, many children have had to leave their homes - often more than once. Thousands are living in makeshift tents and displacement camps with their parents struggling to provide enough food, clean water and warm clothes.
Marah*, 12, living in a camp in northern Syria, was displaced first by conflict and then by the earthquakes.
“We fled due to bombings, shells, and earthquakes. The school was ruined... by the earthquakes and bombing. There was no light, it was dark. We couldn't see the board...Every time the teacher wrote on it, it fell down. It was an awful place.”
After a year without school, Marah was able to enrol in a school supported by Save the Children’s partner. “The situation is better now because I study and go out with my friends, and I have access to education. Because of the earthquake and bombings, I stopped studying, stopped going to school for almost a year,” she said.
Rasha Muhrez, Save the Children’s Country Director for Syria, said:
“Syria is battling crisis on top of a crisis. The earthquake, the conflict, the economy - now we’re seeing more people than ever in need of support. There are no signs of recovery here yet. We urgently need more funding to meet children’s needs – but funding alone won’t cut it anymore. Year after year, we see the humanitarian situation deteriorating to new lows. We must refocus our efforts on supporting them and their families to rebuild what they have lost, to live in peace and safety.”
Sasha Ekanayake, Save the Children’s Country Director for Türkiye, said:
“The earthquake may no longer be in the headlines, but its impacts are still being felt here in Türkiye. We’re on the road to recovery but the reality is that one in three earthquake-affected children are still stuck in tiny tents and containers – it's not just housing that has been destroyed, it’s life as these children once knew it. Save the Children is working hard in collaboration with local authorities to support children to resume their education and access basic services but needs remain high. The international community must not forget about Türkiye.”
Save the Children’s Head of Learning and Capability, Deb Barry, just recently returned from Türkiye where she saw the profound and ongoing impact the devastating earthquake still has on children a year later. She said:
“A year on, children in Türkiye are struggling to rebuild normalcy. Experiencing such a devastating event places immense strain on children’s mental health, and hundreds of thousands are still living in temporary shelter such as tents and containers. Continued aftershocks serve as grim reminders of the tragedy, leaving children in fear and uncertainty. Teachers strive to provide stability amidst the devastation, many are overwhelmed with the needs of displaced students and are addressing their own mental health challenges. Children told me they are constantly afraid that another earthquake will occur, preferring playing outdoors where collapsing buildings are not a threat. As children and families continue to grapple with a lack of safe shelter, limited access to education and other services, and the overwhelming mental health impacts, it is imperative the international community rallies together to help restore and rebuild all that the devastating earthquakes took from them."
Thanks to the DEC Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal, over £150 million has been raised including £5 million matched by the UK Government through the Aid Match scheme.
Donations from the UK enabled the DEC’s member charities, including Save the Children and their local partners to help more than a million people in the first six months following the disaster and are now helping people begin to rebuild their lives.
Save the Children has been working in Türkiye since 2013. When the earthquake struck, we were one of the first organisations to provide clothing, water and food to affected families. We have worked with eight Turkish partner organisations to support over 317,000 people. Save the Children has provided safe learning spaces, school supplies and teacher training to help children continue their education. We have also built homes, provided mental health support and distributed vital supplies.
Save the Children has been supporting children in Syria since 2012, helping families displaced by the ongoing conflict and economic crisis. This meant we were ready to respond to the earthquakes within 48 hours, starting with providing mattresses, warm clothes, food and fuel for heating amidst harsh winter conditions. Thanks to our network of partners working in northwest Syria, we were quickly able to expand to provide safe shelter, more essential items and mental health support for the most marginalised and vulnerable children, including unaccompanied and separated children. We have helped 665,900 people, including nearly 350,000 children, affected by the earthquake.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
 UN OCHA
 Number of children is calculated based on a share of 27% of children among the total by applying the same ratio of children (2.5 million) among the overall population affected by the earthquake in Türkiye (9.1 million) as per UNICEF.
 Based on the latest data from IOM as of October 2023 which found that 760,964 people were living in formal and informal temporary settlements in the provinces of Adiyaman, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras and Malatya.
 Based on research conducted by Save the Children’s partner organisation in June 2023.
 Save the Children’s earthquake Assessment Report: Multi-Sectoral Needs Assessment that covered government-controlled areas.
[8, 9 & 10] Save the Children Multi-Sector Needs Assessment (MSNA), Turkey, October to December 2023. The MSNA surveyed 441 households affected by the earthquake, 87 of which were displaced and living in camps, tents, containers and prefabricated houses.
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