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4.8 million children in Türkiye affected by Feb. earthquakes: Study

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Nearly three months after the deadly earthquakes, dubbed as the worst disaster in Türkiye’s modern history, a scientific study conducted by the International Pediatrics Association (IPA) revealed that around 4.8 million children were affected by the quakes.

According to the Demirören News Agency (DHA) reports on Wednesday, the study from the IPA found that one out of every five children in the country was affected either physically, psychologically or socially by the earthquake.

Speaking on the subject, Kerem Hasanoğlu, head of the IPA’s external relations department, said, “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children can manifest as late as about six months after the trauma. We have to observe children for the next six months.”

Following the devastating earthquakes that left over 50,000 dead, the IPA started a scientific study on the situation of children being affected by the earthquakes. As a result of the study carried out by specialist pediatricians across Türkiye, the number of children impacted as well as the three types of effects on them were revealed.

Highlighting that the World Health Organization (WHO) and IPA emphasize that children are affected by natural disasters in three ways, Hasanoğlu noted that all three effects were seen in Feb. 6 earthquakes. “The most important part here is that the children were affected psychologically,” he added.

Elaborating on the PTSD and trauma that can linger for up to six months, Hasanoğlu said that negative feelings in children can manifest suddenly, even two or three months after the event.

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“Therefore, a great responsibility (falls) on all of us,” he further added, noting that the biggest help one can provide for the affected children is psychological support.

Suggesting that the children should be motivated and psychologically supported for the purpose of bringing them “back to life,” the representative from the IPA also remarked that young survivors should not be subjected to and reminded of the scenes of the earthquakes over and over again.

‘Sustainable support’

Drawing attention to the importance of the continuity of support for the region, Hasanoğlu reiterated the unity of the Turkish nation, evident since the first day of the disaster.

“We all came together and organized morale visits and sent gifts to the children so that they could recover psychologically. You know, toys were sent from football matches. We exhibited a very good example of unity. The important thing here is its sustainability,” he stressed.

Stating that the psychological effect of the earthquake on children is manifested in the form of anxiety or anxiety disorders, he pointed out that this depicts in many forms in children, including being more excited or afraid as well as not being able to continue with their daily activities and losing interest in the activities they willingly used to do.

To support integration into a new environment, playgroups and various entertainment activities were initiated by governmental and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including the Family, Labor and Social Services Ministry and the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) following the massive tremors in the country’s southeast.

Several activities for children sheltering in temporary homes were hosted to cheer them up during the period of Ramadan Bayram, or Eid al-Fitr, and for Children’s Day, marked on April 23, while thousands of children also moved to other provinces where they continued their education following the earthquakes.

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Source: Daily Sabah

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