A major earthquake hit the Syria and Türkiye (Turkey) border in the early hours of the morning of 6 February and left us all with heavy hearts.
The magnitude 7.7 quake, one of the strongest to hit the region in the past 100 years, was felt in Cyprus, Israel and Lebanon. Amid waves of aftershocks — and a second earthquake with a 7.5 magnitude — UNICEF teams are on the ground in Syria rushing life-saving assistance to children and families.
Many children were fast asleep when the initial earthquake struck, making the situation even more dangerous. Alongside the devastating loss of life, it’s likely that schools, hospitals and other medical facilities will have been damaged or destroyed in the wake of the earthquake, meaning the needs and recovery will be catastrophic and long lasting.
The disaster has claimed thousands of lives and a significant jump in the death toll is expected as rescuers search through metal and concrete rubble for survivors in a region already impacted by Syria's 12-year brutal civil war.
"The numbers keep increasing. There is a sense of panic, including among children. Many people, including children, are displaced and remain outside in streets and open areas. The government in Syria closed schools and universities for today, and some are being used as shelters. The psychological impact on some people we met is grave."
Syria's Overwhelming Crisis Landscape
In Syria, children living through twelve years of war, cholera outbreaks, harsh winter conditions, face yet another tragedy following the earthquakes.
4.1 million people — mostly women and children — are facing one of the most complex humanitarian crises in the world. The scars of conflict, mass displacement, and economic turmoil run deep for the children and families in the region. 90 per cent of families were already living in poverty across Syria.
This latest disaster comes as a cruel reminder that for so many, the struggles never seem to end.
UNICEF’s response to children and families in Syria
UNICEF has been in Syria for over 50 years. Our teams are there for children before, during and after emergencies. We will stay and deliver for children through this crisis and beyond.
The recent earthquake has left a trail of destruction in its wake, and the areas hardest hit are Aleppo and Latakia, in northwest Syria, with reports of damage in Hama.
So far, UNICEF’s emergency response focus is on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), child protection services, nutrition and education. We are also working to protect unaccompanied children and reunite those who have become separated from their families.
UNICEF’s immediate priority is to ensure that children and families impacted by this disaster receive the support they need. Our teams stand ready to scale up and to further support the humanitarian response as the situation unfolds.
With your help, we can reach children and families in Syria with the support they desperately need. UNICEF is 100 per cent donor funded and our ability to deliver life-saving supplies is down to people like you.
Help UNICEF reach more children in Syria as they face multiple crises.
Syria and Türkiye Earthquake
UNICEF teams are on the ground, providing urgent assistance to children and families impacted by the devastating earthquake.
Stay up-to-date on UNICEF's work in Australia and around the world
15 Mar 2023
What would it take to make Australia an even greater place to be a child? 3 things you need to know.
What would it take to make Australia the best place to grow up? That’s a question UNICEF Australia and ARACY (Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth) are working to understand. We share a common goal: for all children and young people in Australia to have every opportunity to thrive.
15 Mar 2023
“I know this decision is one I'll never regret.”
The world is chaos and we have no idea what's going to happen but one thing I'm absolutely certain about is that children will need help and that UNICEF will be there for them.
14 Mar 2023
Twelve faces of Syria: children who have known nothing but war
It has been 12 years since the onset of the war in Syria. These 12 children have known nothing but conflict, yet still, they hold hope for a better tomorrow.
13 Mar 2023
Cooking for change: locals bringing hope to the people of Ukraine
Everyday Australians are participating in #CookForUkraine to raise much needed funds to support children and their families impacted by the war.
7 Mar 2023
Children at risk after a double climate disaster in Vanuatu
Two tropical cyclones, Judy and Kevin, and an earthquake destroyed children’s homes and schools in the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu.
24 Feb 2023
In photos: 365 days of strength and courage
It's been over 365 days since war broke out in Ukraine. See how children, communities and humanitarian workers have come together with strength and courage to rebuild lives.
21 Feb 2023
Far from home: Ukraine to Australia
As we mark one year since the war in Ukraine begun, we hear the stories of those who left their whole lives behind to find refuge in Australia. These Ukrainians look back on a tumultuous year of heartache and new beginnings.
14 Feb 2023
Ukraine: one year on
24 February 2023 marks one year of the war. An anniversary no one wanted to reach. But it’s also been 365 days of strength, courage and love.
22 Jan 2023
Something to smile about
Smiling is contagious. These happy children and young people from around the world are sure to put a smile on your face. Find out what has been making children smile this past year.
22 Jan 2023
Cambodia Cycle: Do you have what it takes?
Experience first-hand UNICEF's work in Cambodia from the seat of your bicycle