Turkey Syria

Global Campaign for Education Calls for Immediate Action to Support Rescue Operations and Humanitarian Relief in Türkiye and Syria

On 6 February 2023, a devastating earthquake shook southern and central Türkiye and north-western Syria. With the most recent reports that are subject to change, it is estimated that over 5,200 people have lost their lives (3,419 in Türkiye and 1,712 in Syria)[1] and thousands have seen their houses destroyed. Türkiye’s disaster management agency reported 11,342 collapsed buildings, of which 5,775 had been confirmed[2]. The magnitude of collapsed public infrastructure is not estimated yet, but international media reports a massive destruction of hospitals and schools. It will take years for Türkiye and likely several decades for Syria, mainly but not only because of the ongoing war, to reconstruct such infrastructure.

Rescue operations had unfolded in Türkiye, where hundreds of countries had already sent rescue crews to support those thousands trapped under rubble. The situation in Syria is much more complicated because of the ongoing war and the political tensions between most Western countries and the Syrian government. International media reported voices from the rubble pleading for help but with little hope of being rescued because of the extremely limited rescue crews and equipment to remove the wreckage. Furthermore, aftershocks, damaged roads and extreme low temperatures are hampering rescue missions and the provision of humanitarian relief in both countries.

Regarding education, the earthquake and multiple aftershocks had destroyed educational infrastructure, including childcare centres, schools, and universities in the most affected areas of both countries. Consequently, the right to education for thousands of students has been completely disrupted. The magnitude of the devastation will worsen the already precarious situation of Syrian students, whose right to education has been severely disrupted by years of war and the massive destruction of education facilities in the country.

GCE expresses its deep solidarity with the people of Türkiye and Syria and calls for the international community to urgently mobilise financial and technical resources to assist rescue operations and save lives in both countries. GCE also calls for the provision of emergency support for those whose educational opportunities are more affected and long-term and sustainable financing to support the reconstruction of the infrastructure and livelihoods for those families and communities affected.

GCE calls for all the actors involved in the Syrian conflict to immediately agree to a cease fire to facilitate rescue operations and the provision of humanitarian relief. It also calls for the international community to stop the sanctions in relation to the Syrian civil war in order to facilitate access to rescue operations and humanitarian relief for Syrian families and communities affected by the earthquake.

GCE stresses that education is a universal human right and calls for the governments of Türkiye, Syria, and the international community to adopt immediate actions to prioritise education in the management of the emergency and reconstruction plans. GCE calls for governments and the international community to join efforts and secure financial resources to provide education for all in temporary shelters and develop a comprehensive plan to rebuild educational infrastructure and reopen schools. GCE also calls for schools to provide teachers with the training needed to support children to deal with the trauma associated with the loss of family members and in general with the emotional impacts of the heartquake. #ProtectEiENow campaign


[1] DW. Turkey-Syria: Time 'running out' for people trapped — LIVE. https://www.dw.com/en/turkey-syria-time-running-out-for-people-trapped-live/a-64627873. Retrieved on February 07 2023.

[2] The Guardian. Turkey and Syria earthquake: what we know so far on day two. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/07/earthquakes-in-turkey-and-syria-what-we-know-so-far. Retrieved on February 07 2023.

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The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) is a civil society movement that aims to end exclusion in education. Education is a basic human right, and our mission is to make sure that governments act now to deliver the right of everyone to a free, quality, public education.