From the Field

2023 Turkey and Syria earthquake: Facts, FAQs, how to help

When the devastating earthquake struck southern Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye) and northwest Syria on February 6, 2023, World Vision swiftly responded to the intensified challenges faced by the survivors there, including those made vulnerable by the ongoing conflict in Syria. The earthquake worsened conditions in an area already hosting thousands of refugees.

Your immediate and generous support played a crucial role in alleviating the suffering caused by displacement, heightened levels of hunger, malnutrition, and limited access to healthcare and educational support. Your gifts enabled the timely delivery of vital assistance to over 1.8 million people affected in Turkey and Syria within the first year. Hope endured for so many vulnerable children throughout the year in their most difficult times. Children like Baker*, who was orphaned by the destruction, have reclaimed their smiles. For girls like Sahar*, new dreams are beginning to unfold as her nightmares fade away.

*Names changed to protect identity.

A man extends his arms as he stands on a pile of rubble.
A man walks across the remains of his home in Syria, now a crumbled pile of debris. (©2023 World Vision)

2023 Turkey–Syria earthquake: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Fast facts: 2023 Turkey–Syria earthquake

  • On February 6, 2023, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked southeast Turkey near the Syrian border, with thousands of aftershocks.
  • In Syria, the earthquake exacerbated the effects of the ongoing war, deepening the crisis for approximately 3.7 million children.
  • According to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the earthquake impacted an estimated 15.73 million people in Syria and Turkey.
  • In Turkey, 2.5 million children — many of them Syrian refugees — faced an increased risk of poverty, child labor, or child marriage in the aftermath of the disaster.
  • Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees in the world, including some 3.6 million Syrians, according to UNHCR.
  • World Vision responded swiftly to the disaster and, within the first year of response, helped more than 1.8 million people affected in Turkey and Syria.

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A smiling boy sits on the ground, playing with puppets alongside an aid worker wearing a veil, her back turned to the camera.
Baker*, a Syrian boy (pictured at 10), survived the 2023 Turkey–Syria earthquake but tragically lost his parents and three siblings. Now, under his uncle’s care, Baker found solace and support through a program facilitated by World Vision and partners, Action for Humanity. The program aims to support children through psychosocial programs. Through these services, Baker has gradually regained his smile, returned to school, and discovered new friendships. *Name changed to protect identity (©2023 Action for Humanity)

“I am happy now. I am back in school with my friend Saleem*, I have other friends too and we play together and I love the [psychological and education] activities,” says Baker*.

How many people were affected by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria?

The disaster impacted at least 15.73 million people in Turkey and Syria, with over 55,000 lives lost and nearly 130,000 injured. Millions were displaced from their homes.

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How did World Vision respond to the earthquake, and how were people helped?

In the year following the devastating earthquake, World Vision provided critical support to more than 1.8 million people. Our efforts included delivering vital essentials such as food, heaters, fuel, hygiene kits, cash assistance, and more. Here’s a breakdown our of assistance:

  • 22,224 heaters and fuel provided for schools
  • 10,675 people supplied with shelters
  • 924,975 people gained access to clean water and sanitation
  • 119,745 people equipped with hygiene kits
  • 380,288 people supported with healthcare services
  • 449,378 people received health and nutrition support
  • 50,916 educational programs implemented

In collaboration with 15 local organizations, World Vision reached areas like Aleppo, Afrin, Azaz, and Idlib in northern Syria, and Gaziantep and Sanliurfa in Turkey.

Through our partnership and already being present in the area when the earthquake struck, World Vision initiated psychological support sessions in schools. This endeavor helped over 1,300 children like 9-year-old Sahar* move from fear to healing. She has endured lifelong instability caused by war, displacement, and now the devastating earthquake that destroyed her home and school in their newfound community in northwest Syria. She was studying when the house collapsed. “I am afraid to go to school. I don’t want the building to fall down when I start studying again,” Sahar says. With World Vision’s support, she resumed her education and is flourishing. Sahar has now paved her way for new dreams.

A young girl with a red blazer and pearl necklace focuses on writing, with a chair and whiteboard in the background.
Sahar (pictured at age 9) attends a psychological support session at her school in northwest Syria. She is one of 1,300 children supported through the integrated program by our partner Takaful Al Sham. (©2023 World Vision/photograph by Rand Ishaqat)

I have five friends. We play together, they’re like my sisters. I love teacher Dina who helped me to go back to school,” says Sahar. “I want to finish my education and be a doctor!

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How can I help earthquake survivors today?

You can help World Vision continue to respond to disasters around the world this earthquake.

  • Pray: Join us in praying for all those affected by this tragedy.
  • Give: Your gift will help vulnerable people who are affected by disasters recover and rebuild

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Map of Turkey and Syria earthquake location in red and the locations of the aftershocks in orange.
A USGS map of the February 6, 2023, earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria shows the earthquake in red. Subsequent aftershocks are marked in orange. The size of the circular marker indicates the intensity of the shock. (2023 graphic courtesy of USGS)

Where did the 2023 Turkey–Syria earthquake strike?

The earthquake struck near the Turkish cities of Nurdağı and Gaziantep in Gaziantep Province, just outside the regional capital, which hosts millions of Syrian refugees.

In Turkey: The disaster compounded the already dire situation in the area, beset by the ongoing Syria conflict and refugee crisis. Eleven Turkish provinces, including Adana, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, and Sanliurfa, were hit, affecting nongovernmental organizations supporting Syrians through cross-border humanitarian operations.

In Syria: The quake severely impacted the cities of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, and Idlib, causing significant damage and resulting in the collapse of numerous buildings and the destruction of water systems.

A Syrian boy with short brown hair sits by a row of white tents after earthquake.
The earthquake that rocked northwest Syria and southeast Turkey in early February 2023 devastated the lives of millions of children like Muhammad* (pictured at 10). He and his family live in a temporary shelter, crammed into one of the white tents that dot the ruin-strewn landscape in northwest Syria. He hopes to return to school and longs to fill his days with homework again. “I have always been the first in my class since grade one,” he said. “I [miss] my friends, my teachers, and my school.” *Name changed to protect identity (©2023 World Vision)

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In what ways were survivors affected by the aftermath of the earthquake?

The earthquake’s aftermath deeply affected survivors in Turkey and Syria, worsening the already severe humanitarian crisis. The ongoing emergency in Syria stands as one of the world’s largest crises, further intensified by the earthquake’s extensive aftermath:

  • Nearly 50,000 buildings, including critical infrastructure like schools and hospitals, suffered significant damage or were completely destroyed.
  • Access to essential healthcare in northwest Syria was severely disrupted, with nearly one-third of health centers non-operational and 70 others damaged, according to OCHA.
  • Disrupted schooling and housing loss heightened vulnerabilities among children, increasing the risks of exploitation and family separation.
  • In August 2023, over 265,000 people in Syria urgently needed proper housing due to the disaster’s destruction of homes.
  • Scorching summer temperatures in 2023 triggered more than 40 devastating fires, damaging tents, and taking several lives, further exacerbating the crisis.
In Syria, a doctor wearing protective gear cares for a male patient inside a healthcare tent. He uses a cart of medical supplies.
Despite Syria’s struggling health infrastructure, dedicated doctors like Dr. Mujahid* have remained supportive and committed to their patients during these difficult times. As a pediatrician working with disease surveillance supported by World Vision, Dr. Mujahid continues caring for people even after the devastating loss of his relatives, including the death of a family member’s child who had been missing during the earthquake. He has faced challenges like a lack of medical equipment, staff shortages, and power outages. “I had feelings of sadness and helplessness when I witnessed the severe injuries, numerous deaths, and people trapped under the rubble. But all of this did not prevent me from fulfilling my duty,” he says. *Name changed to protect identity (©2023 World Vision)

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What are the ongoing risks faced by children after the earthquake?

Millions of children in Syria and Turkey are still in need of humanitarian aid and face various challenges. As of August 2023:

  • At least 2.5 million children in Turkey (including many Syrian refugees) and 3.7 million children in Syria need continued humanitarian assistance, according to UNICEF.
  • The widespread damage to water systems in the region has placed millions of children at risk of waterborne diseases like cholera and Hepatitis A, necessitating urgent action to prevent outbreaks.
  • In Syria, mental health support for children was at high demand. Even before the earthquake, many children in conflict-affected areas were already showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and alarming suicidal thoughts.
A bird’s-eye view of three children in Syria sitting on rubble in front of a small smoldering fire.
Children gather around a makeshift fire to ward off the cold in northwest Syria. Hundreds of thousands of people lacked adequate shelter and sanitation after powerful earthquakes and aftershocks caused devastation in Syria and southeast Turkey in early February 2023. (©2023 World Vision)

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How long has World Vision served in the Middle East region?

For nearly 40 years, World Vision has served the most vulnerable communities in the Middle East. We’re dedicated to improving the lives of children, families, and communities through long-term sustainable development and responding to disasters.

World Vision swiftly supported 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.

Since the start of the Syrian refugee crisis, we’ve helped more than 7.5 million children and their families in the region. World Vision continues to aid children and families in Syria, Jordan, and Turkey, all of whom have suffered from ongoing conflict and the resulting humanitarian crisis.

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