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5 February 2024

One year ago, on 6 February 2023, huge earthquakes and destructive aftershocks struck southern-central Türkiye and north-western Syria.  

The death toll stood at over 50,000 people and there was immense widespread damage. Homes were destroyed and essential services disrupted.  

“The devastation following the earthquakes a year ago was on an immense scale, affecting millions of people,” said Felicity Wever, Director of International Programs.  

"But with the generous support of Australians - individuals, businesses and governments - who donated over $7.8 million to our earthquake appeal, UNICEF was able to strengthen our presence and work alongside our partners to provide help to children and families in need."

Felicity Wever
Director of International Programs

In Syria in 2023, UNICEF reached 5.6 million people affected by the earthquakes. This included 3.2 million children. As part of the earthquake response in Syria: 

  • 3.3 million people accessed a sufficient quantity and quality of water for drinking and domestic needs.  
  • 694,233 children and women accessed primary healthcare in UNICEF-supported facilities. 
  • 554,879 children accessed formal or non-formal education, including early learning. 
  • 393,828 children, adolescents and caregivers accessed community based mental health and psychosocial support. 

In Türkiye, throughout 2023, UNICEF, together with the Government and partners reached 4.7 million people including 2.4 million children with life-saving services and support. 

However, a year on and millions of children are still in need of urgent humanitarian support.  

“In Syria, children continue to suffer in one of the world’s most complex emergencies. Children in Syria have been struggling to cope after nearly 13 years of sustained conflict, continued displacements, the impact of unprecedented economic crisis, and disease outbreaks,” said Ms Wever.  

“One year after the earthquake, an estimated 7.48 million children are still in need of humanitarian assistance. The harsh winter and freezing temperatures are making things worse. UNICEF remains on the ground, with partners, providing lifesaving assistance to impacted children and families.” 

In Türkiye, the earthquakes disrupted education for more than 4 million children. UNICEF supported almost a million of these children with access to formal and non-formal education.  While great efforts have been made to increase access to education, many children in the affected areas in Türkiye remain out of school. 

UNICEF in Türkiye is appealing for US$116 million to continue its work to support children affected by the earthquakes, and build back a resilient foundation for longer-term development.  

In Syria, UNICEF’s 2024 appeal requires US$401.7 million to provide an essential lifeline to 8.5 million people, including 5.4 million children. The greatest funding requirements are for water and sanitation, health, and education, while protection continues to be a high priority. 

UNICEF operates entirely on voluntary donations. We are on the ground before, during and after emergencies working to reach children and families with lifesaving aid and long-term assistance. We can only do this with the support of donors.