Nine days after the fort earthquake that shook the southeast of Turkey and the north of Syriathe Turkish authorities still unable to identify 291 children of the total of 1,362 unaccompanied minors registered so far as survivors of the earthquake.
”We currently have 1,362 unaccompanied children registered. Of them, 369 were identified by their families and handed over to them,” said the Minister of Family and Social Services on Tuesday, Derya Yanik.
He added that 792 minors are being treated in various hospitals, while another 201 have been housed in institutions of his ministry.
”We have identified 1,071 of these children. The identity of 291“, accurate.
After recalling that in the 1999 earthquake there were kidnapped children for various purposes, including trade in organsthe authorities have urged the population to hand over unaccompanied minors they find to state officialsand not to people claiming to be close relatives.
The 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria on the 6th have caused more than 35,000 dead and more than 80,000 woundedmaking them the deadliest in the region in over a century.
The trauma of surviving children
Serkan Tatoglu managed to save his four children from the violent earthquake that destroyed their home in southeastern Turkey. The family is now safe, but her six-year-old daughter keeps asking: “Dad, are we going to die?”.
The province of kahramanmaras — 1.1 million inhabitants before the earthquake — has had airs of apocalyptic moviewith its collapsed buildings, the sound of ambulance sirens and coffins placed on the side of the roads.
These are terrifying scenes for the children who survived the earthquake on February 6 with a balance of 32,000 dead in Turkeyaccording to a still provisional balance.
“My children were seriously affected by the earthquake,” she tells the AFP Serkan Tatoglu, whose wife and children ages 6, 11, 14 and 15 found refuge in a cluster of tents built next to a stadium in the city of Kahramanmaras.
“I lost ten members of my family. My children don’t know it, but the youngest is traumatized by the aftershocks. He doesn’t stop asking meDad, are we going to die?‘”, says.
“I don’t want to show you corpses. With my wife, we hug them and tell them that everything is going to get better, ”she says.
hilal ayar25, is very worried about her seven-year-old son, Mohamed Emir: “He’s not well mentally, he can’t sleep”.
Sueda Deveci, psychologist member of the Turkish branch of the NGO Doctors Worldwidesent to Kahramanmaras, works with the parents, who are also traumatized.
“A mother confessed to me: ‘Everyone must be strong but I can’t do anything, I can’t take care of my children, I don’t even feel like eating’”.
Some children seem unaware of the earthquake, she says, as three of them draw next to her.
“I don’t talk much about the earthquake with them. We put them to draw and we will see to what extent that will be seen in their drawings ”, he indicates.
“Child-centred policies must be elaborated urgently”exhorts Esin Komana child rights protection specialist, now working in Kahramanmaras province.
According to her, children adapt faster than their parents, but what is necessary must be done so that they pass this test.
The psychologist cihan celik shared on Twitter a message he received from a volunteer ambulance driver sent to the earthquake zone.
During the evacuation, several children were seized with anguish. ‘The injured children asked several times along the way’Where is mom, where is dad? Are you kidnapping us?”’.
(With information from EFE and AFP)
Rescues that move the world: children surviving under the rubble of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria
“Where is my mom?”: the drama of the children rescued from the rubble after the earthquake in Turkey and Syria
A woman survived 177 hours in the rubble and was rescued a week after the earthquake in Turkey