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850,000 children in Turkey, Syria remain displaced by earthquakes: UNICEF

Turkey quake children

A psychologist takes care of children who have been affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck the border region of Turkey and Syria, in Kahramanmaraş, on February 12, 2023 as rescue teams starts to wind down their work. The province of Kahramanmaraş with its 1.1 million population, reminds of a horror movie: the piles of coffins on the roadsides, the sirens of ambulances. As the rescue operation continues, children are walking on the rubble and exposed to dead bodies lifted in cranes in body bags. OZAN KOSE / AFP

More than 850,000 children remain displaced in Turkey and northern Syria a month after devastating earthquakes struck Turkey in early February, UNICEF said in a press release, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

According to UNICEF, some 2.5 million children need urgent humanitarian assistance in southern Turkey, while more than 3.7 million children have been affected by the earthquakes across Syria.

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.

The impact of the earthquakes on the region’s children and families has been catastrophic, leaving hundreds of thousands in desperate conditions, UNICEF said.

“Families forced from their homes by the earthquakes have spent the past four weeks focused on survival, their lives on hold while aftershocks continue to rumble,” said UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia Afshan Khan. “It is now critical to do all we can to help families begin to rebuild their lives – providing children with psychosocial support, getting them back into learning as soon as possible, and providing some stability amid the chaos.”

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.

UN humanitarian agencies will need $397.6 million in funding over the next three months to respond to the most pressing humanitarian needs of 4.9 million people in Syria who have been affected by the quakes, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.

UNICEF is requesting $196 million to reach 3 million people in Turkey, including 1.5 million children and $172.7 million to deliver immediate life-saving support for 5.4 million people in Syria, including 2.6 million children.

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