Syria-Türkiye earthquakes: one year on
“I thought I might die like other children who passed away under the rubble.”
When was the Syria and Türkiye earthquake?
One year on and it’s still hard to comprehend the level of destruction in Syria and Türkiye (formerly Turkey) following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and countless aftershocks on 6 February 2023.
Tragically, 50,000 people lost their lives and more than six million people were displaced. Lives, homes, schools, livelihoods – gone in a matter of minutes.
Today, World Vision continues to respond to the many needs of those affected, helping them rebuild their lives.
How we're helping children affected by the earthquake
Prior to the earthquakes, World Vision was already working in Northwest Syria. For more than ten years, our Syria team supported those internally displaced by a long-running conflict. Though personally impacted by the earthquakes, they were there to help from day one.
In just the first week of our emergency response, we provided:
- 17,000 litres of fuel to medical facilities and search-and-rescue teams.
- Heat for 9,630 people living in temporary shelters.
- Hot meals for 11,490 people.
- Medical consultations and treatment.
Since then we have continued working in both Syria and Türkiye. Thanks to our generous donors, we have launched over 50 projects, helping more than 1.8 million people – which is almost double our target of 1 million in the first year.
Your donations are making a lasting difference
If you gave to our DEC Türkiye and Syria earthquake appeal here are some of the key things your money provided:
- Access to clean water and sanitation for more than 900,000 people.
- Health and nutrition support to almost 450,000 people.
- Health care services for 380,000 people.
- Mental health and psychosocial support to almost 200,000 people.
- Cash for necessities and repairs to 63,000 people.
Additionally, World Vision supporters provided blankets and other essential items, fuel and heaters, shelter, hygiene kits, clean drinking water, dignity kits for women and girls, hot meals, education, school maintenance and child protection.
READ MORE: The difference we make in emergencies
How have children been affected by the earthquakes?
World Vision’s priority is always children and their wellbeing. We believe that every child deserves to live in safety and experience fullness of life.
In Syria, where economic turmoil is at its worst and the currency is weakening daily, this disaster only heightened people’s suffering. Badr* is among millions of children who are facing the ongoing impacts of the earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye.
"When the houses started shaking and the walls were collapsing, I heard a little girl desperately screaming for help,” recalls Badr. “Her voice still echoes in my head."
At eight, Badr is too young to have experienced such trauma, but his eyes cannot unsee what he witnessed that day.
From a warm home to a cold tent
Badr and his family were first displaced by the long-running conflict in Syria. They moved around but eventually found a modest home to rent in the Northwest and, with it, some semblance of stability. Until that terrifying day.
“We could barely afford this house,” shares Badr’s mum Enas*, “and now it lies there in ruins with all our belongings.”
Like many others, Badr and his family were forced to live in a tent after the earthquake.
“All I could feel was coldness as rain poured down our heads and heartbreak as I recall what happened to our house,” says Badr.
But brutal weather conditions weren’t the only thing the family had to contend with.
“Badr suffered from profound psychological anguish and became frightened as he recalled what we experienced. It broke me,” says Enas.
Not surprisingly, Badr’s progress at school suffered. He also mourned a friend who had died in the earthquakes and would often talk about missing him.
A beacon of hope
The family wondered how they could ever recover from such an ordeal.
But then World Vision Syria stepped in, offering a beacon of hope to earthquake survivors in Syria – a chance to rebuild their lives.
Badr’s family received a grant of US$1200 to repair their home and, in the meantime, a more spacious and durable tent to shield them from the rain and biting cold.
They were also one of 750 families who received two lots of vouchers to buy essential items like food and clothing. This was vital for Badr’s family since, in the aftermath of the quake, his father’s work in construction dwindled.
World Vision’s Syria Response Team can see the difference this had made to Badr and his family. They are smiling again.
“After the house was renovated, I was ecstatic because we no longer need to stay out in the cold,” Badr says.
Badr’s renewed sense of security has significantly contributed to his mental wellbeing, as Enas proudly shares:
“After the renovation, Badr’s stress significantly reduced and his grades started improving. My son started to become himself again.”
He now dreams of his future. “I dream about continuing my education and becoming a teacher and educating children.”
Also living in Syria, Qamar* has known nothing but upheaval and cannot comprehend the life her mum and dad had before the conflict.
When the war broke out, the family made their way to Northwest Syria, securing a small room. But things were far from perfect.
“We lost everything. We lived in a displacement camp. We couldn’t [still can’t] afford food. Sometimes my children sleep feeling hungry,” shares Qamar’s mum.
Ill health meant neither of Qamar’s parents could find work. And because they had so little to survive on, Qamar developed a growth deficiency.
“We are in need of many things my parents can’t provide. I just want to grow up healthy just like my friends,” shares ten-year-old Qamar.
"We couldn't stop crying"
When the first earthquakes struck, the ceiling of Qamar’s home nearly fell down. For nine days, the family stayed outside.
“We spent these nights under the rain out in the cold. My siblings and I clenched around our mother. We couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t know what was happening,” says Qamar.
Sadly, the family had nowhere else to go, so they returned to their home.
“I would scream in the middle of night and my mother would wake me up. I thought I might die like other children who passed away under the rubble,” Qamar shares.
This broke Qamar’s mum’s heart, so they headed to World Vision’s Protection Centre.
Providing psychological support
Along with 600 children, Qamar began participating in psychological support sessions, which helped her understand her emotions and deal with them instead of bottling them up.
Soon Qamar – whose name coincidentally means "moon" – began to shine for the first time. She became more outgoing and social, forming friendships with other children her age.
How can I help survivors of the Syria and Türkiye earthquakes?
World Vision sends a big thank you to all those who have supported our response to the Syria-Türkiye earthquakes. You have helped so many people rebuild and recover from this disaster, and your gift will make a long-lasting difference in the lives of children.
Our work in these countries continues and we plan to stay for as long as we’re needed. And it’s not too late to give to our emergency appeal. Your donation will help us reach vulnerable children who are facing the long-term impacts of disaster.
*Names have been changed to protect identities