More than a month after a catastrophic earthquake and a series of temblors and aftershocks devastated southeast Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye) and conflict-ravaged Syria, hundreds of thousands of people are living in desperate conditions, lacking adequate shelter, food, clean water, sanitation, and more.
The combined death toll has surpassed 46,000 in both countries, with many more injured.
FAQs: What you need to know about the 2023 Turkey and Syria earthquake
Explore frequently asked questions about the Turkey and Syria earthquake and learn how you can help survivors.
- Fast facts: 2023 Turkey-Syria earthquake
- What’s happening in the aftermath of the Turkey and Syria earthquake?
- Where did the February 6, 2023, earthquake strike in Turkey and Syria?
- What risks do children face in the aftermath of the earthquake?
- How is World Vision responding to the Turkey and Syria earthquake?
- How many people has World Vision helped since the earthquake struck Turkey and Syria?
- How long has World Vision worked in the Middle East?
- How can I help disaster survivors today?
Fast facts: 2023 Turkey-Syria earthquake
- On February 6, 2023, at 4:17 a.m. local time, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocks southeast Turkey near the Syrian border.
- The initial quake strikes at a depth of 11 miles (17.9 km) near Nurdağı in Gaziantep province.
- After the first quake, aftershocks numbering in the thousands rumble across the region, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
- On February 20, 2023, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake strikes Hatay province in southern Turkey, causing more damage and killing three people.
- More than 850,000 children remain displaced in Turkey and Syria.
- Over 1.9 million people are seeking shelter in tents and temporary shelters in Turkey and 500,000 people in Syria are homeless.
- Even before this disaster, more than 6.5 million children in Syria needed humanitarian aid due to the ongoing conflict.
What’s happening in the aftermath of the Turkey and Syria earthquake?
More than 150 aid trucks carrying desperately needed relief supplies including food, water, shelter, and cleaning essentials have crossed into beleaguered northwest Syria from Turkey, according to the United Nations. More shipments are on the way to an area beset by turmoil from the 12-year conflict in Syria and the ongoing refugee crisis.
Across the region, cities suffered widespread destruction. The disaster toppled apartment buildings, schools, and hospitals, leaving communities and infrastructure in ruins.
More than 350,000 pregnant women across the earthquake-ravaged region are struggling to access healthcare and daily essentials, according to UN officials. Of those, 38,800 are expected to deliver in the coming weeks.
“One month on since the devastating earthquake hit Türkiye and Syria, the scale of the humanitarian response has yet to meet the enormous needs of displaced Syrian families and children who have suffered from compounded crises for almost 12 years now,” said Johan Mooij, director of World Vision’s Syria crisis response. “It is crucial that all access channels to northwest Syria remain open, and that aid deliveries are scaled up through earmarked funding for the emergency response. Only this will ensure that children’s mental health needs are covered, and their trauma addressed.”
Where did the February 6, 2023, earthquake strike in Turkey and Syria?
The powerful earthquake’s epicenter was near the cities of Nurdağı and Gaziantep in Gaziantep Province, just outside the regional capital — home to millions of Syrian refugees. The quake added more misery along the border, an area beset by the nearly 12-year Syria conflict and refugee crisis. Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees in the world, some 3.5 million Syrians, according to the UNHCR, which runs one of its most extensive operations from Gaziantep.
- In Turkey: The quake hit at least 10 Turkish provinces, including Adana, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Malatya, and Sanliurfa. The area is a significant hub for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) supporting Syrians through cross-border humanitarian operations.
- In Syria: The cities of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, and Idlib were badly hit, with buildings damaged and many reported to have collapsed. Aleppo, already ravaged by civil war, was among the most affected areas, where more than 4 million people already relied on humanitarian aid.
What risks do children face in the aftermath of the earthquake?
Snow and bitter winter weather have placed children at great risk of hypothermia as they struggle to survive in sub-zero temperatures. Many survivors have had to sleep in cars, outside, or in makeshift shelters. Doctors have warned that children are also at risk of exposure to waterborne diseases such as cholera or Hepatitis A due to the damage to shelters and water infrastructure.
These children are now even more vulnerable to family separation, exploitation, and abuse. As buildings are deemed unsafe, they also are unable to return to school.
“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,” says Johan, director of the Syria crisis response in Amman, Jordan. “This earthquake has created the perfect environment for a health crisis — fueled by reduced healthcare capacity and disease outbreaks.”
“Humanitarian needs were already extremely severe in northwest Syria, and this catastrophic earthquake has added trauma to ongoing crisis there,” he adds. “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 whilst also attempting to deal with the physical and mental impact of this earthquake.”
In northwest Syria, alarming suicidal thoughts and perceptions were already on the rise among women, children, and young adults prior to the earthquake. Mental health in the region is expected to further deteriorate in the wake of the disaster.
How is World Vision responding to the Turkey and Syria earthquake?
World Vision has been distributing fuel and heat to shelters in northwest Syria in response to cold temperatures. Initial assessments from our partners showed a critical need for fuel to restore heating and electricity to medical facilities and emergency shelters.
We are working alongside 15 local organizations to maximize our impact. Our priorities include helping support affected people with access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) resources, healthcare, shelter, and care for vulnerable children. Our immediate response areas will cover Azaz, Afrin, and Idlib in northern Syria, as well as Gaziantep and Sanliurfa in Turkey.
How many people has World Vision helped since the earthquake struck Turkey and Syria?
In the first few weeks of our response, we helped support over 50,000 people with life-saving essentials, including food, heaters and fuel, hygiene kits, cash assistance, and more.
Our teams identified the most urgent needs within affected areas and responded with:
- 96,851 liters of fuel (approximately 25,585 gallons) for health facilities and search and rescue teams
- Heaters and fuel for 2,847 displaced households in shared emergency shelters
- 57,000 medical consultations
- 12,752 ready-to-eat meals
How long has World Vision worked in the Middle East?
World Vision has been working in the Middle East region for nearly 40 years. We’re dedicated to improving the lives of children, families, and the communities where they live through long-term sustainable development as well as responding to disasters — both natural and man-made.
World Vision quickly came alongside Syrian families who fled to Lebanon in 2011. Since then, our work has expanded to other countries hosting Syrian refugees and into Syria. Children and their long-term needs are always our first priority.
In 2022, we reached more than 1.9 million people in Syria — 45% of them children — with life-saving aid through our health, child protection, education, nutrition, psychosocial support, livelihoods, and WASH programming.
Since the Syrian refugee crisis began, we’ve helped more than 7.5 million children and their families in the region. World Vision is continuing to provide aid to children and families in Syria, Jordan, and Turkey, all of whom have suffered from ongoing conflict and the resulting humanitarian crisis.
How can I help disaster survivors today?
You can help World Vision continue responding to disasters like this earthquake around the world.
- Please give today to help vulnerable children and families suffering in the wake of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
- Pray: Join us in praying for survivors, people who have lost loved ones and homes, and for World Vision staff and responders as they continue to support families through this disaster. Almighty Father, we ask for Your mercy on people hardest hit by this tragedy. During these desperate days, please give recovery and aid teams discernment to steward resources wisely. Comfort families that have lost loved ones, and keep children and adults warm through the bitterness of winter that compounds this catastrophe. Father, protect people who are displaced, including girls and women who are at higher risk of exploitation and violence. Give them patience, peace, and hope that they will emerge from this disaster and livelihoods will be restored.