Ankara/Damascus, 15 February 2023 (TDI): The United Nations (UN) Humanitarian Agency warned that thousands of children in northwest Syria, and Turkiye have likely been killed and millions are vulnerable, looking for support.

“Even without verified numbers it’s tragically clear the number of children killed, the number of children orphaned is going to keep on rising”,” said UN Children’s Fund UNICEF Spokesperson, James Elder.

Before the earthquake emergency, around 4.6 million and 2.5 million children were living in Turkiye and Syria consecutively.

Growing Health Threat

Elder warned that eight days passed since the disaster the humanitarian focus has shifted from rescue to recovery now. The cases of hypothermia and respiratory infections rising among youngsters. This calls for more emergency relief.

People need more safe water, warmth, shelter, fuel, medicines, and more funding. He said. “Families with children are sleeping in streets, malls, mosques, schools, under bridges, staying out in the open for fear of returning to their homes.”

Crossline Access Challenge

Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad agreed with the UN to reopen two additional cross-border aid delivery points into quake-hit northwest Syria from Turkiye at Bab Al-Salam, and Al Ra’ee for three months.

UN humanitarians also stressed the need to secure aid relief in Syria which is war-ridden as well. World Health Organization (WHO) Spokesman, Christian Lindmeier said that every stakeholder party needs to agree to receive convoys to let them work unhindered, and that is also the biggest challenge.

People Looking for Help

Kenn Crossley, World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director in Syria, told journalists in Geneva that humanitarian access is needed to reach people “wherever they are from, wherever we can get to them”.

He highlighted that the UN is involved in considerable efforts to provide relief to people affected by the earthquake. In this wake, hot meals and ready-to-eat food were distributed in shelters within hours of the disaster.

About 90,000 people within northwest Syria have been receiving specific food assistance. WFP also provided food assistance to 60-70,000 quake-affected people in Government-controlled areas of Aleppo, Hama, and Latakia.

Aid for All

Another agency involved in relief efforts is the UN migration agency (IMO), which said that food assistance is consistently going on in northwestern Syria.

Aid is coordinated by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in its latest report UN convoys are helping to provide immediate aid to affected areas.

In Turkiye, WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge said that 31,000 people lost their lives in the disaster, and the number of injured in the affected southern provinces rose to almost 100,000.

In northwest Syria, Dr. Kluge assessed the death toll as nearly 5,000 but more deaths are expected.

Rising by the Hour

The need is increasing every hour as some 26 million people across both countries need humanitarian assistance. UN agencies are making efforts to prevent health emergencies and provide hygiene and sanitation.

In Turkiye, one million people lost their homes and are living in temporary shelters, Dr. Klug continued, citing Turkish authorities’ estimates that 80,000 people are in hospital, “placing a huge strain on the health system, itself badly damaged by the disaster”.