UNICEF Field Office teams are currently undertaking assessments and providing emergency aid. The initial focus of UNICEF's emergency response is on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), child protection services, nutrition and education. In addition to assessing the impact of the quakes on water systems, UNICEF is distributing hygiene kits and ensuring access to safe water. UNICEF is also working to protect unaccompanied children and reunite those who have become separated from their families.
On February 8, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck northern Syria and southeast Turkiye at 4:17 AM local time while many children were still sleeping. This was followed by another 7.5-magnitude earthquake which hit southeast Turkiye hours later in the afternoon. So far over 7,000 people have been killed and thousands have been injured and these numbers are expected to grow.
In Syria, UNICEF teams are identifying separated and unaccompanied children and working to reunite them with family, providing mental health support for, delivering emergency medical supplies, and ensuring children and families have access to safe water and sanitation. In Turkey, the UNICEF country office is supporting search and rescue efforts and distributing emergency supplies including hygiene kits, blankets and warm clothing to children and families.
Even before the earthquake, children in Syria were already living through a humanitarian disaster caused by the ongoing civil war, economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. UNICEF works with an established network of 17 NGO partners to deliver urgently needed supplies and services across northwest Syria, where many children have been displaced up to 10 times in recent years. UNICEF also leads the coordinated multi-agency UN response in four areas: WASH, nutrition, protection and education.