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Race against time to save children buried under rubble in Türkiye and Syria following devastating earthquakes

With heart-breaking images of children being pulled from the rubble in Türkiye and Syria after the devastating earthquakes, Save the Children said the window to get shelter, medical supplies, water and food to the worst affected areas in order to save lives is rapidly closing
09 February 2023

The death toll from Monday’s two earthquakes has now surpassed 11,000 across both countries, with many thousands more injured and the numbers continuing to rise. The first 72 hours following a natural disaster are critical. Time is running out to rescue survivors, particularly children who are most vulnerable to the freezing temperatures. 

The earthquakes are estimated to have impacted about 23 million people, many of whom are children. Survivors in Türkiye and Syria urgently need humanitarian aid such as food, shelter, blankets, and clean water. Sanitation in temporary shelters is also a growing priority, as without running water and latrines, waterborne diseases will quickly spread, which are particularly deadly to children.

Children are also at risk of being separated from their families, which puts them at risk of exploitation and abuse. Keeping families together in such crises is critical to their safety, protection and wellbeing.

Save the Children will on Thursday be providing much needed hot meals for around 500 people taking shelter in sports centres being used as temporary shelters across various points in Hatay, Türkiye. With support from its partners, Save the Children delivered 1,500 ready-to-eat meals for families in Northwest Syria today, where the levels of support for affected people remain a far cry from what is needed. 

Berna Koroglu, Emergency Response Team Coordinator for Save the Children Türkiye, is in Hatay, Türkiye, she said: 

“I’ve met people who have lived through traumatic experiences due to the earthquake. I have spoken to parents that are still waiting to be reunited with their children currently under rubble. On the other hand, there are many other children who are being rescued on a regular basis. 

“There are limited hygiene facilities and availability of food sources. We need support and especially psychological first aid support for children, who have watched their homes and schools collapse. The international community needs to do all it can to support local humanitarian workers.” 


The situation in Northwest Syria is incredibly bleak. These earthquakes have hit in areas where children and their families were already facing huge challenges, many displaced by 12 years of conflict and living in camps, already dependent on humanitarian aid to meet their basic needs.   

Kathryn Achilles, Advocacy, Media and Communications Director for Save the Children Syria, said: 

“Even before the earthquake, life in the camps was difficult and people were reliant on humanitarian assistance to survive. This winter has been bitterly cold, and tents provide little comfort against the poor weather. Our partners are telling us that the earthquake has made a bad situation even more unbearable - without support people can't feed their children. They are urgently in need of assistance." 

As of 8 February, Save the Children Türkiye emergency response team was responding to the needs of the children and families who are affected and currently residing in temporary facilities such as sport centres by providing hot meals across at various locations.

Save the Children's teams on the ground are preparing to support affected communities with winterization and emergency kits, including blankets and winter clothing, food, baby food, water, fuel, hygiene kits and dignity kits and more. 

Save the Children is supporting its partners in Northwest Syria to deliver additional ready-to-eat rations, tents, emergency kits, remove debris, as well as offering assistance to health centres with medical supplies and fuel. 

To support Save the Children's work responding to emergencies visit: 
https://www.savethechildren.org.au/donate/appeals/childrens-emergency-fund

MEDIA CONTACT: Joshua Mcdonald on 0478010972 or Holly Robertson on 0414546656 or media.team@savethechildren.org.au

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