UNICEF: 3.7 million children in quake-affected Syria face a catastrophic combination of threats
Shafaq News/ The 3.7 million children in affected areas of Syria who survived the powerful earthquakes that hit southern Türkiye and northern Syria on 6 February are facing potentially catastrophic threats, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell warned today at the end of a two-day visit to Syria.
The UNICEF said the emotional and psychological impact of the earthquakes on children, the heightened threat of contagious, contact-transmitted, and waterborne diseases to displaced families, and a lack of access to essential services for families left vulnerable by almost 12 years of conflict run the risk of creating continuing and compounding catastrophes for children affected.
"The children of Syria have already endured unspeakable horror and heartbreak, " said Russell. "Now, these earthquakes and aftershocks not only destroyed more homes, schools, and places for children to play, they also shattered any sense of safety for many of the most vulnerable children and families."
In Aleppo, Russell met children at a temporary learning space. More than 250 children living in a collective shelter can access education, mobile health services, recreation, and physiological first aid activities.
Russell" also visited a UNICEF-supported water-pumping station that provides safe water for about two-thirds of the neighborhoods in Aleppo. With many more families now displaced and living in cramped conditions in temporary shelters, providing continued access to safe water and sanitation is critical in preventing outbreaks of diseases such as scabies, lice, cholera, and acute watery diarrhea.
In northwest Syria, UNICEF has reached more than 400,000 affected people with nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene services and supplies. Before the earthquake, UNICEF had prepositioned critical humanitarian supplies, reaching children and families in the first 48 hours following the initial quake. So far, UNICEF trucks carrying humanitarian supplies for more than 1.8 million people have been sent to support communities and children in northwest Syria.
"It is not enough to simply provide immediate relief – we must commit to standing with these families for the long haul, helping them regain stability and hope," said Russell. "By providing access to essential services, like safe water, health care, and psychosocial support, we can help children and families heal from the awful experiences they have endured so they can rebuild their lives."
In Syria, UNICEF requires US$172.7 million to deliver immediate life-saving support for 5.4 million people, including 2.6 million children impacted by the earthquake.