Voices from the Field - Syria Earthquake 2023

Endurance, Resilience and Hope

March 9, 2023

Kids walking around destroyed buildings in Lattakia city and going through the rubble following the earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey on 06 February 2023

©UNDP / Syria - Mohammad Jouni
©UNDP / Syria - Zuhir Al-Fourati

Syria, a 45-year-old widow and mother of five from Aleppo in Syria. She recounts the harrowing night of the earthquake that shook her world on 06 February 2023. She and her family, scrambled out of their building in their pyjamas fearing for their lives. The next day, they were requested to evacuate due to damage inflicted on the building. Sadly, the building later collapsed.

Despite the chaos, the family did not seek refuge in shelters because they were hesitant to be in close quarters with strangers. Instead, they used rugs and set up makeshift tents alongside the road with other families that chose the streets over shelters.

“My two younger sons are out of school, working to keep our family afloat. We often went without food until someone from the local community would bring us some. I kept my children warm using firewood and shrubs,” Syria said.

Samira, Syria's sister, echoes her sibling's sentiment. “The earthquake terrified us. We were fortunate to escape with our lives”. Local residents provided them with blankets and mattresses, but they are still waiting for aid to come through. Unable to afford rent, the family appealed for help from anyone willing to provide them with a place to live. Their young children had left school to work in a sewing factory, earning only 60,000 Syrian Pounds (US$7-8) per month. They were struggling to survive on that meagre income.

Syria and Samira represent the countless families affected by the earthquake, struggling to make ends meet and keep their loved ones safe.


©UNDP / Syria - Zuhir Al-Fourati

Ahmad is a 54-year-old father of three daughters and a son from Aleppo, Syria. His hands used to craft beautiful furniture, but the war changed everything. He lost his carpentry workshop and has been switching between jobs since, including selling cigarettes on the street. Despite having a heart condition and needing surgery which he cannot afford, he relies on his faith to keep his family safe and live a dignified life.

Ahmad's eldest child is in college, while the youngest is in first grade. The family struggles to survive during the deteriorating living conditions in Syria as a result of the crisis. “We are all in the same situation, trying our best to survive in a difficult world,” Ahmad says.

When the earthquake hit, Ahmad's first concern was to calm his daughters and ensure their safety. Their home was affected, so they had to evacuate. He sent his wife and daughters to seek shelter in a mosque. Although Ahmad’s family are facing many challenges, he continues to work tirelessly to provide for his family.


©UNDP / Syria - Mohammad Jouni

Abdulkader Mallouk is a 50 yeas old man from Lattakia in Syria. He is married and has two daughters, one in the fifth grade and the second at university. Abdulkader is a skilled carpenter who lost his workshop in the earthquake that struck his hometown. With no source of income, he accumulated debt and is struggling to provide for his family. 

"My livelihood is buried under here. I cannot pay rent. My daughters education is important and now I am unable to cover their school and university costs," Abdulkader said.

Abdulkader is trying to find a way to salvage his equipment, tools, and stocked goods from under the rubble to restart his business, but it is proving to be a difficult and expensive process. The earthquake has left Abdulkader and many others struggling to survive.

Working alongside our humanitarian partners, and in coordination with the UN country team, UNDP is helping those in need get back on their feet. UNDP is supporting: 1) Local level emergency coordination and rapid building safety assessment; 2) Debris removal for humanitarian access; 3) Provision of emergency energy; 4) Psychosocial support ; and 5) multi-purpose cash assistance, to support livelihoods.