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“We’ll fast even with just bread and water”: Families in Türkiye are struggling ahead of first holy month of Ramadan after devastating earthquakes 

Families displaced by the earthquakes in Türkiye are in urgent need of food, water and basic hygiene and sanitation items as the holy month of Ramadan begins.
22 March 2023

Families displaced by the earthquakes in Türkiye are in urgent need of food, water and basic hygiene and sanitation items as the holy month of Ramadan begins, Save the Children said today.  

Ramadan is considered a time of compassion, charity, and unity, but with homes destroyed and families being torn apart by the earthquakes, it will be a struggle for many this year.  

The devastating earthquakes killed more than 48,000 people in Türkiye alone, injured more than 115,000 and displaced 2.7 million people with people now living in temporary settlements – including tents. On top of this, two provinces were hit by severe flash flooding last week, killing at least 19 people and making it even harder for families to try and piece their lives back together.  

Fatma*, 29, lives in a tent in a small village in the province of Adıyaman with her husband and three children aged four, seven, and nine. Many homes in her village were destroyed during the earthquakes and the village was also hit by the heavy rainfall and flooding last week.  

“I’m very concerned for Ramadan this year. We live outside. We don’t know where we will prepare food for Iftar [the fast-breaking evening meal of Muslims in Ramadan]. We need a proper cooking set up. We have lost our hope for Ramadan – now we don’t know what will happen.” Fatma* says. 

Her seven-year-old son has a disability and she’s worried about his wellbeing living in these difficult conditions. 

“We need proper shelter because my son is at risk. I’m afraid about how my son is going to be affected. The most important thing for us is to have a safe place to stay and good hygiene.” 

Zeynep*, 41, lives in a tent in the same village with her husband and four children after their house was destroyed in the earthquake.  

“Last year during Ramadan we were praying as a community together. We were living happily with our children. Now, everybody has lost someone from their family or relatives. We have lost our happy memories. Nothing will be the same this year,” Zeynep* says. 

“We cannot clean [our tents]. The water that we can access is not suitable for drinking. We have a toilet down the road that we share with other people. We need food. We need a place to pray. There is no good hygiene here.” 

Eylül* is trying to stay strong after losing everything, living in a tent with her daughter and 3-year-old granddaughter Fatima*. She doesn’t know where they are going to get food to break their fast during Ramadan: 

“For good or for bad, we’ll keep on living. We’ll fast even with just bread and water.” 

To support the national emergency response and working hand in hand with all partners, Save the Children are on the ground distributing blankets, shelter kits, hygiene kits (including essential items like soap, shampoo, dishwashing liquid, and laundry washing powder) and dignity kits (including menstrual sanitary pads and underwear). One hygiene kit can provide basic levels of hygiene for a family of five for up to three months.   

Save the Children is also planning on delivering dry food kits (including rice, dates, flour etc.) during Ramadan and beyond to around 10,000 households across the provinces of Hatay, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaraş and Adıyaman – the worst affected areas by the earthquakes. In Hatay, teams have already distributed sacks of flour, helping more than 7,500 people in need. 

Sasha Ekanayake, Country Director for Save the Children in Türkiye, said: 

“Ramadan is going to be extremely different for many families in Southern Türkiye this year after the devastating earthquakes and severe flooding. Normally a time of religious observance, charity, and family reunions – now a struggle to find stability. It is a month of fasting, sharing, and caring for the less fortunate and communal gathering, but the children affected by these earthquakes and their families are still faced with many challenges, so this will be a lonely Ramadan for many. The international community must step up its efforts to give back to these children and families a sense of normalcy, safety, and community, and to protect their futures.”   


MEDIA CONTACT: Mala Darmadi on 0425562113 or

*Names have been changed.


  • Save the Children and partners have so far reached more than 87,000 people in Türkiye since the onset of the crisis.  
  • The response is focused on seven districts and activities continue to focus on immediate life-saving assistance.  

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