World Vision warns of the risk of exploitation and abuse to which children are exposed in Syria after the earthquakes

A general view of the destruction caused in the Syrian city of Jindires by the earthquakes in Turkey

A general view of the destruction caused in the Syrian city of Jindires by the earthquakes in Turkey – Anas Alkharboutli/dpa

Latest Turkey and Syria earthquake news

8 Feb. () –

The non-governmental organization World Vision has warned of the risk that children in Syria are exposed to exploitation and abuse due to the consequences of the earthquakes registered on Monday in southern Turkey, near the common border, which have left more than 11,000 deaths in both countries.

“As in other emergencies that World Vision has responded to in the past, Syrian children affected by last Monday’s devastating earthquake are now extremely vulnerable, even more so than before,” said the response director. from the NGO in Syria, Johan Mooij.

Thus, it has stressed that “hundreds of thousands” of minors “are now homeless”, while “some have been separated from their families, which further increases the risk of being exploited or suffering abuse”. “In the early stages of a crisis, when emergency action is taken to meet the urgent needs of vulnerable people, protection systems may find it difficult to develop quickly enough,” she said.

“Unfortunately, there are people who take advantage of this vulnerability and exploit these children at the moment when they most need support and protection. As a child-focused organization, the safety and protection of children is the main priority of World Vision and is essential in our response to this emergency,” he said.

“In northern Syria, in particular, the threats to children from abuse were already extreme. Rising poverty within a war zone, now devastated by earthquakes, has created an unimaginable number of challenges and suffering for boys and girls,” he stressed.

For this reason, the organization is carrying out a rapid assessment in both Syria and Turkey, and has started distributing fuel and heating systems to the shelters so that families can stay there safely and are protected from cold temperatures. winter, which have sometimes been below zero degrees Celsius.

In this sense, Mooij stressed that “humanitarian needs were already extremely serious in northwestern Syria, and this devastating earthquake has added trauma to the crisis there”, before adding that “sanitary facilities are no longer they were poorly equipped and could not meet the needs, but now many have been destroyed”.

“Families are trying to survive without homes, without access to food, in sub-zero temperatures, while trying to cope with the physical and mental impact of this earthquake. We call on the international community to prioritize these people, who They have already suffered a lot,” he stressed.

In this way, the NGO has requested rapid and unrestricted access to the most affected areas in Syria and has requested the urgent mobilization of resources to support the victims. “It is essential that children, who are now even more vulnerable and at risk of exploitation, are able to return to their homes and schools as soon as possible,” Mooij reiterated.

“They are currently struggling to survive in sub-zero temperatures, exposed to the spread of disease and various protection risks such as child labor or early marriage, and other forms of exploitation and abuse. We must do everything we can to protect them now and in the future.” future,” he said. “They, like all children in the world, deserve a childhood and an opportunity to live to the fullest,” she concluded.

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