Turkey-Syria Disaster Impact Assessment
Children and caregivers continue to struggle with mental health issues.
Children and caregivers continue to struggle with mental health issues three months after the tragic Syria- Turkey earthquake
Three months after devastating earthquakes ravaged Syria and Turkey on February 6th, World Vision has released a recently-conducted Disaster Impact Assessment in 5 districts of Southeast Turkey, surveying 528 Syrian and Turkish children affected by the earthquake.
The worrying results revealed lasting mental health impacts on children, including regular feelings of upset when remembering the event and experiencing unwanted images and thoughts.
The assessment also surveyed caregivers, and found that many continue to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Over half reported regular nightmares, and many felt anger, guilt, and shame when recalling the events of February 6th.
One mother in Hatay said, "When I felt the earthquake, I thought about throwing my child out the window to save him, and I always blamed myself for that."
Another woman from Gaziantep said: “I suffer on a daily basis from nightmares and dreams, which constitutes a state of tension, anxiety and severe psychological pressure at bedtime.”
In Gaziantep, a man contributing to the impact assessment said: “I am displaced and I cannot go home because of psychological damage from the earthquake.”
“The nature of our lives has completely changed,” said a woman in Sanliurfa. “We stay up for long periods of time because of insomnia for fear of the earthquake. Hobbies and entertainment activities have disappeared, and the focus of our lives has become issues related to the earthquake.”
In Northwest Syria, over 81% of the people surveyed by World Vision in the aftermath of the earthquakes were experiencing fear and severe distress. Even before the earthquakes, a worrying number of young people and children in Northwest Syria were already experiencing symptoms of PTSD and suicidal ideation.
As the region begins the long road to recovery, World Vision Ireland CEO Gillian Barnett has called on Irish people to continue giving their support:
“We can all recall the harrowing scenes in the wake of the devastating earthquakes that caused widespread death, injury and continuing hardship for the people of Syria and Turkey. The suffering is ongoing. I am urging the people of Ireland not to forget the people affected by these tragic events, and to keep on giving support if they are able, to help with the recovery operations.”
Eleanor Monbiot, Regional Leader for the Middle East and Eastern Europe at World Vision, emphasised the extensive recovery needed: "Good progress has been made, but it will take years, if not decades, to rebuild and restore lives in the earthquake-stricken communities. With 17 million people affected, over 50,000 people killed, and 4 million buildings destroyed, we must not forget these children and families as they continue to grapple with the long-lasting effects of this disaster.
"We must not forget the Syrian and Turkish people whose whole lives changed in just 1.5 minutes, and we ask you to keep them in your prayers during these very challenging times as they continue to struggle to restore their lives. To date, World Vision has already reached 450,000 peoplethrough its earthquake response. We plan to continue this important work to reach over a million people, 700,000 of whom will be in Northwest Syria,” said Monbiot.