TÜRKİYE AND SYRIA DONOR CONFERENCE: Save the Children calls on world leaders to step up for children who survived Türkiye and Syria earthquakes
Hatem*, 15, walks through his earthquake damaged neighbourhood wearing a Go-Pro camera [ Hurras/ Save the Children]
Amman, 17th March - As the European Union and Sweden prepare to host a donors’ conference to raise funds for the earthquake relief response in Brussels next Monday, Save the Children calls on world leaders to step up, and commit funding to meet children’s immediate humanitarian needs, and protect their futures.
At present, funding for the response is woefully low and certainly not at the level to meet the overwhelming needs. Following the earthquakes, the UN flash appeal to meet people’s immediate humanitarian needs in both countries was set at $1.4 billion (USD). The flash appeal is only 28.7% funded; Türkiye is 13.8% funded, and Syria is 66.4% funded. There is still $1 billion required to meet the needs of all those affected by the earthquakes and help children recover.
This is a critical window to meet ongoing immediate needs and help children recover. The lack of funding for child protection and education is particularly concerning.
The earthquakes claimed the lives of more than 54,000 people across both countries. But the crisis is not over. With decimated infrastructure, overstretched services, and millions of children and their families displaced from their homes, urgent action is needed to protect children from the secondary impacts of the earthquakes.
Hatem*, is a 15-year-old child from Idlib in Syria. When the earthquakes hit northern Syria, his life changed dramatically. Hatem* narrowly avoided being hit by a falling wall until his neighbour pulled him out of the way. He now lives in a tent with his extended family of seven, in a crowded camp for earthquake survivors. He said:
“I felt the earthquake as I was awake. We barely reached the door of the house when the second earthquake happened. Some walls fell in front of us, so we got stuck for about two hours until the civil defence arrived.
“We are currently living in a tent. The situation here is not good at all, I have new friends, but here I cannot study or do anything. It's cold at night, and last night there was a storm and the tent was about to fall apart.”
Countless children have seen their education disrupted. While some schools Türkiye and Syria have started to gradually reopen in some areas, many remain damaged and some are being used as shelters.
Children in Syria have already lived through twelve years of conflict, and both countries have experienced an economic crisis. The psychological toll and threats to children's safety are immense, and without adequate support and investment, there is a risk of long-term repercussions on their health, development and wellbeing. Children who have become separated from their families, are at heightened risk of violence, abuse and exploitation.
Ali* 11, and his parents live in Hatay, Türkiye. His family lost their home, so they stay in the local Community Center, where he attends Save the Children’s child friendly space. Ali* said:
“If I had a magic wand, I would want a new life…My wish for the children of this city is that I would want all the buildings to be intact again. To go back to the old times.”
Local organisations have played a critical role in the humanitarian response, but only a fraction of funding is currently reaching them. In Türkiye, local NGOs have only received $0.1 million out of the $139 million raised to date. Whilst in Syria local NGOs have received $15 million out of the $264 million raised. Donors are also supporting local humanitarian organisations with flexible funding through the Country-Based Pooled Fund (CBFP) in Syria which has received $84 million to date. Local organisations, who are the cornerstone of the response, are still missing out.
Ekin Ogutogullari, Save the Children's Regional Director for Middle East, North Africa & Eastern Europe, said:
“Children across Türkiye and Syria need world leaders and donors to step up. They need concrete outcomes from this Conference. Donors must not only engage with us, but also ensure they are engaging with local and national partners who have been the frontline responders since day one. Children need urgent support to meet their basic needs, but also long-term support to be able to rebuild their lives after such shattering devastation. The cost of neglecting either would be incalculable”.
GoPro story from Syria - Hatem*, 15, walks through his earthquake damaged neighbourhood wearing a Go-Pro camera:
NOTES TO EDITORS
*Names have been changed
For Türkiye by 2nd March INGOs had directly received $7.4m. By 14th March that had risen to $24.8m, although that constitutes only 16% of the total response funding given. The UN has received 65% of the response funding in Türkiye.
For Syria by 2nd March INGOs had directly received $38m. By 14th March that had risen to $53m. That constitutes 20% of the total response funding given. The UN has received 46%, CBPFs have received 28% and LNGOs 2%