Children in Syria at risk of abuse and separation as earthquake leaves hundreds of thousands unprotected

Media Contact :

Nicole Harris
Senior Public Relations Manager
[email protected]
m 404-735-0871


  • Hundreds of thousands of already vulnerable children are now homeless and facing greater risk of family separation, exploitation and abuse
  • Children in danger of hypothermia as they struggle to survive in freezing temperatures
  • With buildings still deemed unsafe, children will also be out of school
Syria is still recovering from the earthquake that hit on February 6, 2023. Some people sought safety at the faraway displacement camps while others stayed in the streets afraid of the aftershocks. Many buildings are destroyed leaving hundreds of people including children without any shelter during the coldest month of the year. ©2023 World Vision

AMMAN (February 8, 2023) — Global humanitarian organization World Vision has warned that children in Syria are at risk of exploitation and abuse in the wake of Monday’s massive quakes as they have been left without homes and unable to attend school.

 “Like many emergency situations that World Vision has responded to in the past, the[se] children … are now extremely vulnerable,” said Johan Mooij, World Vision’s national director for the Syria crisis response.

“In Syria, they already faced many risks. Hundreds of thousands are now homeless, and some will have been separated from their families, which further increases their risk of being exploited or facing abuse.  In the early stages of a crisis, as emergency actions are undertaken to meet the urgent needs of vulnerable people, safeguarding systems can struggle to develop quickly enough. Unfortunately, there are people who will prey on this vulnerability and will exploit these children at a time when they most need support and protection. As a child-focused organization, the safety and protection of children is World Vision’s main priority and will be central in our response to this emergency.

“In northern Syria, in particular, the threats to children from abuse were already extreme. The soaring poverty within a warzone, now devastated by earthquakes, has created an unimaginable number of challenges and suffering for children.”

World Vision is undertaking a rapid assessment in both Syria and Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye) and has begun distributing fuel and heat to shelters to help protect families from sub-zero temperatures and other risks.

The aid organization is also working to provide affected people with access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) support, healthcare, shelter, and child protection. Its immediate response areas will cover Gaziantep and Sanliurfa in Turkey, as well as Azaz, Afrin and Idlib in northern Syria.

“Humanitarian needs were already extremely severe in northwest Syria, and this catastrophic earthquake has added trauma to ongoing crisis there. Health facilities were already badly equipped and unable to cope with need, but now many have been destroyed. Families are trying to survive with no homes, no access to food, in sub-zero temperatures, while also attempting to deal with the physical and mental impact of this earthquake. We call on the international community to prioritize these people, who have already been through so much,” Mooij said.

 World Vision is calling for swift and unhindered humanitarian access to the areas of worst impact in northwest Syria, and for all donors and stakeholders in the Syrian crisis response to rapidly mobilize resources to meet the most pressing humanitarian and health needs in the first stages of the response as well as aid reconstruction efforts in the longer term.

“It is essential that the[se] children … are able to return to their homes and schools as soon as possible. They are currently struggling to survive in freezing temperatures, exposed to the spread of disease, and to various protection risks — such as child labor or early child marriage — and other forms of exploitation and abuse. We must do everything we can to protect them now and in the future. They, like all children in the world, deserve a childhood and a chance of life in all its fullness,” said Mooij.

About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.