Responding in Syria after devastating earthquakes7 February 2023
Plan International is working urgently to assess the needs of hardest-hit communities in north-west Syria.
Two devastating earthquakes struck north-west Syria and south-eastern Türkiye on Monday 6 February 2023, causing the deaths and injury of thousands of people, and leaving widespread scenes of devastation, with homes and vital services destroyed.
The region is experiencing regular aftershocks and a winter snowstorm which is hampering rescue efforts and adding to the plight of those affected.
Working with partners in north-west Syria
Plan International is working urgently to assess the needs of the hardest-hit communities in north-west Syria. With our local partners, we are working to provide for immediate lifesaving needs, including food and water, shelter and blankets to keep people warm, while meeting the specific needs of women and girls, including menstrual health kits.
This disaster comes at a time when the people of north-west Syria were already struggling to survive, following years of conflict, economic collapse, a cholera outbreak, and freezing winter conditions. Even before this crisis, many people have already been displaced multiple times, and have limited access to healthcare. Now, international rescue teams are struggling to reach affected Syrian communities.
Plan International is extremely concerned about the toll that yet another crisis will take on children, particularly girls and their families. Schools are closed and are providing shelter to those who have lost their homes, leaving children without their usual support frameworks.
Dr Unni Krishnan, Global Humanitarian Director at Plan International said: “There is a limit to what communities can endure. People have already faced so much over recent years and that’s why it’s vital that we have come alongside our local partners who are best placed to respond immediately.”
Girls at risk of exploitation
Our experience shows that children, especially girls, women and the poorest families, are most at risk of exploitation in a disaster like an earthquake. Women and children in the disaster-zone will be at risk of exploitation and abuse, should they find themselves once again displaced. The protection and safety of children, particularly girls, must be a top priority.
We are also concerned about the psychosocial impact on children. Two catastrophic earthquakes, many deaths and injuries, and scenes of twisted steel and debris where once there stood homes, along with aftershocks being felt almost every two hours, will have heightened fear and anxiety among children. Their lives are changed forever.
“In the aftermath of earthquakes, children really do need our support the most,” said Safo Visha. “Their lives have been turned upside down, and they need support to regain a sense of safety and normality while all is chaos around them.”
The next few days, weeks and months will be challenging for families whose lives have been turned over by the devastating earthquakes. Plan International, through our partners, will remain with the families as we assess additional support needed including protection and psychosocial support.