The Washington Post

Reuniting families key priority after quake


Reuniting children with their missing families has become a top priority in the aftermath of last month’s massive earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria, the head of the U.N. children’s agency said Wednesday.

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said the Feb. 6 quake that rocked southeast Turkey and parts of northern Syria has compounded existing crises in war-torn Syria.

“The first challenge is figuring out if [the] children’s parents are alive in some place, and if they are, trying to reunite them,” she told the Associated Press, speaking at a school in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

Since the quake, the school has been turned into a shelter for families who lost their homes.

In Turkey, Derya Yanik, the minister for family affairs, said Wednesday that more than 1,800 “unaccompan­ied children” have been reunited with their families since the quake. Efforts were underway to identify 83 other children and reunite them with family members, Yanik said.

Some of the children who have not been identified were still in intensive care in hospitals in Turkey, she added, and more than 350,000 families had applied to foster children orphaned by the quake.

The Turkey-syria earthquake killed at least 50,000 people and injured many more, according to the United Nations. Tens of thousands are missing, and hundreds of thousands are homeless.

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