365 days on from the initial earthquake, we’re still doing all we can to help.
Life before the earthquake
Even before this devastating earthquake, there were over 4 million adults and children in need of aid in Northwest Syria - that's over 8 in 10 people.
According to the OCHA, the area is home to nearly 3 million people who have been displaced by the long-standing conflict in Syria.
- Nearly 2 million of these people are still living in camps with limited predictable access to heating, clean water or other necessities.
- Around 80% of these people are women and children, who are particularly vulnerable and often face further brutality like gender-based violence.
Our initial response
Once the disaster struck, a rescue operation was rapidly launched across much of southern Turkey and northern Syria.
The initial disaster response focused on supporting immediate needs, which mainly included food kits and cash in the first few months. This was followed by humanitarian support through protection, education and community-led approaches.
Working through local partners, and with funding from several donors, Christian Aid has been able to reach more than 105,500 people badly impacted by the earthquake, including many who saw their homes destroyed or badly damaged. Christian Aid aims to reach almost 289,500 more people by the time our projects in the area are complete.
After 9 months, the focus of our humanitarian aid shifted to building community resilience. This included support for women through women centers that provided economic opportunities, legal awareness, and educational, protection and skills support, along with small business grants for the wider community. Christian Aid’s partners also helped the rebuilding of schools and roads.
Your donation could help rebuild a community by building a safe space for children directly impacted by crises.
Our ongoing response
Though the earthquake has passed, the crisis is far from over.
Hundreds of thousands of people across Syria and Turkey will continue to face the impact of the flood for many years to come. Though we were able to help fulfill the immediate and essentials needs, we know that our focus now must turn to battling the ongoing impact and rebuilding the community.
During the summer of 2023, we turned our attention to child protection. We began creating safe spaces for children in the area, helping them work through the devastating scenes they witnessed and regain their childhood. Working with our partner Hurras Network (Child Guardians), a child protection agency, we created a child-friendly space where they can provide one-to-one educational and emotional support. In total, 4,000 children attend these safe spaces and are able to take part in fun activities designed to help reduce stress levels and promote the well-being of children.
The children in attendance have not only survived a terrifying earthquake, but have also lived most of their life during Syria’s 12-year-long conflict. We hope that these safe spaces can provide hope for a brighter future to not only the children attending, but to the entire community.
Mahmoud and Salwa
Mahmoud and Salwa were survivors long before the earthquake struck their homes early on the morning of 6 February, having both spent their entire lives through the 12-year conflict in Syria.
Both families fled their homes to avoid the conflict, and settled in an area close to what became the center of the earthquake.
After the shock, Mahmoud and his family lived in a tent for two weeks until they felt safe enough to move back home.
'I was afraid that there would be another tremor. We were scared to sleep indoors. We were afraid the roof would collapse.' he said.
Both children were unable to attend school, but thankfully in June they were able to start attending classes run by Christian Aid’s local partner Hurras Network (Child Guardians).
'My favourite subject is maths. When I grow up I want to be an engineer so I can rebuild houses destroyed by earthquakes.' he said.
'I consider the summer school my second home. I feel very safe here. I am with my friends, which helps me forget about the earthquake.' she said.
Initially, Renaad found attending school again to be frightening, fearing that the horrors she had witnessed would repeat themselves.
“I was afraid of another earthquake happening while I'm away from my family. The school building is old, I was afraid it might collapse.”
However, she now uses the wellbeing support and self-soothing techniques taught at school to help her get through difficult and scary moments.
She said “I learned how to take deep breaths, which makes me feel more relaxed. It gives me the strength to face situations that bother me or make me sad.”
With funding from CORDAID, more than 7,000 primary school-aged children were able to attend classes designed to help them catch up with their studies.