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2.5 million children need urgent humanitarian assistance in Turkey: UNICEF

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Some 2.5 million children in Turkey need urgent humanitarian assistance in a region affected by devastating earthquakes on February 6, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said on Tuesday, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

“The earthquakes were an absolutely cataclysmic event for children in affected communities,” said Russell. “The physical destruction this earthquake brought is clear to all, but the less-visible, emotional toll on children is just as profound.”

Russell paid a two-day visit to Turkey and met with children and families affected by the powerful earthquakes.

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck near the Turkish city of Gaziantep – home to around 2 million people and on the border with Syria – as people were sleeping on February 6 was followed by dozens of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude temblor that jolted the region in the middle of search and rescue efforts the same day.

According to the press release on Russell’s visit, UNICEF has so far reached nearly 277,000 people, including over 163,000 children, with lifesaving supplies, including hygiene kits, winter clothes, electrical heaters and blankets.

The UN launched a $1 billion funding appeal to support millions of people in Turkey.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier said in a statement that the funds would provide humanitarian relief for three months to 5.2 million people. The money would “allow aid organizations to rapidly scale up vital support,” including in the areas of food security, protection, education, water and shelter, he added.

However, only 7 percent of the UN’s appeal was funded as of Friday, according to Alvaro Rodriguez, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Turkey.

Posting a blog on the UN News website, Rodriguez called on the international community to provide lifesaving funds for victims of the disaster in Turkey.

UNICEF is requesting $196 million to reach 3 million people in Turkey, including 1.5 million children, with critical supplies: water, sanitation and hygiene; health and nutrition; child protection; education; and humanitarian cash support to vulnerable children.

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