World Vision deeply concerned about the fate of unaccompanied children in Syria following catastrophic earthquake

Media Contact :

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


  • The already-stretched child protection system in northwest Syria is now overwhelmed due to the number of children who have lost one or both parents.
  • Many are missing identity documents, adding to the challenges of reuniting them with their families.
  • Child protection must remain a priority in the emergency response.
children playing football on a field next to a refugee camp in Syria
Children playing football after seeking shelter in camps due to the earthquake making their homes unsafe to live in. ©2023 World Vision

AMMAN (February 15, 2023) – Global humanitarian organization World Vision is deeply concerned about the dire situation of unaccompanied children in Syria following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Syria and Türkiye (Turkey) on February 6.  The already-stretched child protection system in northwest Syria is now overwhelmed due to the large number of unaccompanied children, many of whom have lost or been separated from their parents. UNICEF estimates that 2.5 million Syrian children have been impacted by the earthquake.

“The number of unaccompanied children is rising each passing day as search and rescue teams continue to find separated children or even infants who were stuck under the rubble following the earthquake,” said World Vision’s child protection coordinator in northwest Syria.

Some of the children lost their immediate families in Turkey as a result of the earthquake and are trying to reunite with relatives in northwest Syria. Others were already living in northwest Syria when the earthquake took their families’ lives. According to initial assessments from World Vision staff, the children range in age from a few days to 8 years old. Most are missing identification documents, which adds to the challenge of reuniting them with loved ones.

In the days following the earthquake, World Vision warned about the serious risks posed to children in the aftermath of such an enormous disaster, calling for the prioritization of child protection in the emergency response. The risks to children include family separation as well as exposure to various forms of abuse and exploitation due to their increased vulnerabilities.

This disaster compounds 12 years of ongoing conflict, displacement and various traumas that have already taken a huge toll on Syrian children’s lives. World Vision is currently mobilizing its protection teams in coordination with other protection actors to ensure that safe referral pathways are in place for all affected children. We will also be using our child protection centers in northwest Syria to respond to their needs and provide critical mental health and psychosocial support services (MHPSS) in close coordination with local partners.

“Syrian children are again at risk of being forgotten following the aftermath of this unimaginable crisis,” said Johan Mooij, World Vision’s Syria crisis response director. “It is urgent that we address the needs of unaccompanied children, to ensure they can still receive the care they desperately need.”

An assessment conducted by World Vision in northwest Syria showed that 94% of surveyed people’s homes and shelters had been damaged by the earthquake and that 82% were living in collective shelters as a result. In addition, 42% of respondents reported that education facilities had been damaged in their neighborhoods and 84% said the earthquake had impacted their children’s ability to access education services.

To date, our emergency response efforts have reached more than 78,000 women, men and children in northwest Syria with essentials like fuel, heaters, ready-to-eat meals and healthcare assistance.

“We are asking for an increase in funding and scaling up of humanitarian aid dedicated to this emergency, so that humanitarian actors can meet the enormous needs in northwest Syria,” Mooji said. “More importantly, child protection must remain at the center of all our activities. Syrian children need us now more than ever.”

About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to 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 follow on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.