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A year has passed since the tragic earthquake in Turkey and Syria. 9-year-old Ela is still afraid of the next one

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A year has passed since the cataclysm that killed 53,000 people in Turkey and 6,000 in Syria. Some children who survived are still traumatized, like 9-year-old Ela.

She was born in the cold, under the rubble of one of the collapsed buildings in Syria. When she was found, she was still connected to her mother by the umbilical cord. She was the only survivor of the entire family. Afraa, who was taken into the care of relatives after the tragic earthquake, has just turned one year old. – It was a sad year, but Afraa means everything to us. When she eats, laughs or cries, she reminds us of her parents, says Khalil Al-Sawadi, a relative of the girl. The girl’s parents and siblings are among the nearly 60,000 victims of the earthquake that struck southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria on February 6, 2023.

The earthquake lasted a minute and twenty seconds, but then it felt like a lifetime, recalls Rama Daaboul from Aleppo. – The first thing I did was take my two-year-old daughter and prayed for God to help us. The most devastating thing for me was that my two-year-old daughter only remembered three words after all this: earthquake, earth, fear – she adds.

READ ALSO: A year has passed since the tragedy. More than a hundred people have still not been found

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Help for Syrians in need is provided, among others, by Caritas Polska. The situation in the country ravaged by civil war is dramatic. – There are so many problems in this country that people no longer talk about the earthquake. More than 16 million people need humanitarian assistance. In Syria alone, over 13,000 buildings were damaged – including one hundred health centers – reports Dominik Derlicki, head of the Caritas Polska mission in Syria and Lebanon.

More than 120,000 people were injured as a result of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Rescuers from all over the world, including Poland, rushed to help the injured. On his own, Mehmet tried to rescue his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren from the rubble. – We tried to save them. We had shovels and pickaxes, but we couldn’t do anything. It was a huge building. We tried, but we failed to save them, says Mehmet Dogac.

Strong earthquake in Turkey and SyriaPAP

Enormous tragedy

Abdulalim waited three days to be rescued. Doctors had to amputate one of his legs, and the other was paralyzed below the knee due to crushing. A man who relies on the help of others lost his immediate family as a result of the earthquake. – My daughter died first. My son asked “is my sister dead?” I told him no, that he was sleeping. Then my son passed away. My wife was the last to die. I waited patiently, recalls Abdulalim Muaini.

Not all of them could be found. According to one Turkish organization, at least 140 people are missing. Their relatives have no idea what happened to them. – A year has passed and I don’t know what happened to my brother, his daughter and my sister-in-law. Any information would satisfy me. Imagine what it’s like to envy others who found their loved ones dead. My niece was six years old. Do you know how difficult it is to look for her every day in orphanages? – asks Cigdem Nur.

READ ALSO: He survived a powerful earthquake. “When he reached out to me, I wanted to take him away.”

Unhealed trauma

Twelve months after the tragedy, the victims need not only material help, but psychological support is also extremely important. 9-year-old Ela does not want to go to school located in a 4-story building because she is afraid of another earthquake. The girl’s family lives in a temporary house made of containers. – We were a happy family before the earthquake. I worked in an insurance company and had three daughters. Two of them died. Only the youngest survived. Everything is very difficult for us, explains Ali Riza Gazaloglu.

Citizens say Turkish authorities have not done enough to help them. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the reconstruction of almost 700,000 destroyed houses. A few days before the anniversary of the earthquake in Hatay province, the Turkish president announced that over 7,000 buildings had been put into use.

Author:Justyna Kazimierczak

Facts about the World TVN24 BiS

Main photo source: Reuters



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