Unicef Thailand launches appeal to help children after earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria
Unicef Thailand is launching an emergency appeal to the Thai public to provide urgent assistance for tens of thousands of children and their families who are severely suffering from catastrophic earthquakes that struck the border of Syria and Turkey on February 6.
According to authorities, in the two countries, thousands of people have been killed, including children, with thousands more injured. These numbers are only likely to increase.
“Time is absolutely critical in an emergency like this,” said Kyungsun Kim, Unicef Representative in Thailand. “Unicef is working to provide essential supplies including medical supplies, hygiene kits, blankets, and winter clothes, nutrition to families in need, restore water supplies after water stations were damaged, protect children who have lost or been separated from their families and provide emotional support to traumatized children. It is also working to create child-safe spaces for displaced children and families.”
In Turkey, efforts are currently focused on search and rescue and Unicef is coordinating with the Government, and the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency on the emerging needs linked to the wider humanitarian response. In Syria, Unicef is assessing the impact of the earthquakes and preparing to support the humanitarian response in coordination with partners.
The initial 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit just after 04:00 local time, when many children and families were asleep at home, with a second 7.5 magnitude quake hitting later in the day.
Thousands of homes are likely to have been destroyed, displacing families and exposing them to the elements at a time of year when temperatures regularly drop below freezing and snow and freezing rain are common. Heavy snowstorms have also recently hit parts of Syria and Turkey, with further sub-zero temperatures forecasted.
“The images we’re seeing out of Syria and Turkey are heart-wrenching,” said Unicef Executive Director Catherine Russell. “That the initial earthquake happened so early in the morning, when many children were fast asleep, made it even more dangerous, and the aftershocks bring continuing risks. Our hearts and thoughts are with the children and families affected, especially those who have lost loved ones or who have been injured. Our immediate priority is to ensure children and families affected receive the support they so desperately need."
It is likely that schools, hospitals and other medical and educational facilities will have been damaged or destroyed by the quakes, further impacting children. Potential damage to roads and critical infrastructure will also complicate search and rescue efforts and the wider humanitarian response.
Children in Syria continue to face one of the most complex humanitarian situations in the world. A worsening economic crisis continued localized hostilities after more than a decade of grinding conflict, mass displacement and devastated public infrastructure have left two-thirds of the population in need of assistance. Food insecurity, reliance on unreliable and alternative water sources protection concerns, and high levels of school dropouts are acute.
Waterborne diseases pose another deadly threat to children and families affected. In Syria, a cholera outbreak declared on 10 September 2022 quickly spread across the country, with children especially vulnerable.
To make a donation:
Online donation: www.unicef.or.th/syria
Bank transfer: Bangkok Bank 201-3-01324-4
SMS: Type UNICEF send to 4712225, to donate THB 100