UNICEF appeals to Thai public to help child victims of earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

Child whose family was killed in earthquake, screen grab.

The recent earthquakes in the border region of Syria and Turkey have caused widespread devastation, leaving thousands of people dead and many more injured. Among those affected are countless children and their families, who are now in dire need of assistance. In response, UNICEF Thailand has launched an emergency appeal to the Thai public, calling for people to help provide urgent support to the affected communities.

In light of this dire situation, Unicef Thailand is urging the Thai public to support their efforts to help the children and families affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. Donations can be made online at www.unicef.or.th/syria, through a bank transfer to Bangkok Bank 201-3-01324-4, or by sending an SMS with the message “UNICEF” to 4712225, which will result in a THB 100 donation.

Kyungsun Kim, Unicef Representative in Thailand, emphasised the importance of swift action in an emergency like this.

“Time is absolutely critical. Unicef is working to provide essential supplies including medical supplies, hygiene kits, blankets, and winter clothes, nutrition to families in need, restore water supplies after water stations were damaged, protect children who have lost or been separated from their families and provide emotional support to traumatized children. It is also working to create child-safe spaces for displaced children and families.”

Unicef is working closely with the governments of Turkey and Syria to assess the situation and respond to the emerging needs, Nation Thailand reported. In Turkey, the efforts are primarily focused on search and rescue, and Unicef is coordinating with the government and the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency on the humanitarian response. In Syria, Unicef is preparing to support the response by working with its partners to assess the impact of the earthquakes.

Thailand’s Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation also announced on Tuesday that it will deploy a 20-member Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team to Turkey.

The earthquakes, which struck in the early hours of the morning when many children and families were asleep, caused significant damage to homes and critical infrastructure. Thousands of homes are likely to have been destroyed, and many families are now homeless and exposed to the elements in a region where temperatures regularly drop below freezing and snow and freezing rain are common. With heavy snowstorms already hitting parts of Syria and Turkey, and further sub-zero temperatures forecasted, the situation is dire for those affected.

Schools, hospitals, and other medical and educational facilities have likely been damaged or destroyed, compounding the impact on children. In addition, potential damage to roads and critical infrastructure is likely to complicate search and rescue efforts and the wider humanitarian response. Children in Syria, who were already facing one of the most complex humanitarian situations in the world, are now at even greater risk.

A worsening economic crisis, localized hostilities, mass displacement, and devastated public infrastructure have left two-thirds of the Syrian population in need of assistance. Food insecurity, reliance on unreliable and alternative water sources, protection concerns, and high levels of school dropouts are acute, and the recent earthquakes have only made the situation worse.

Waterborne diseases pose another deadly threat to children and families affected by earthquakes. In Syria, a cholera outbreak declared in September 2022 quickly spread across the country, with children especially vulnerable. The recent earthquakes and the destruction they have caused are likely to exacerbate this situation, putting even more children at risk.

Thailand NewsWorld News

Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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