Earthquake Disaster Relief photo

What happens when an earthquake strikes

One shattering moment can wreck a community and leave children traumatized, displaced and vulnerable to disease. Earthquakes — like the major quakes that struck Turkey and Syria — are especially devastating, with physical, social and economic impacts that are felt for generations. 

Children are disproportionately affected by natural disasters like an earthquake. Families can become separated, schooling can be disrupted, access to safe water, food, shelter and health services become difficult or impossible. And in the wake of such a disaster, poverty often rises. Children who are living in poverty, children who are living without the protection of parents, and children who are out of school all face higher risks of abuse and exploitation.  

How UNICEF helps children after an earthquake 

When an earthquake strikes, UNICEF is among the first on the ground, prepositioning supplies, supporting response efforts and assisting with the recovery.

UNICEF operates the largest humanitarian supply warehouse in the world. Through its network, UNICEF can deliver urgently-needed items anywhere in the world within 48­ to 72 hours.

UNICEF will also:

  • deploy mobile health and nutrition teams to provide emergency care and services
  • identify children who have become separated from their families and ensure their basic needs are met — and that they stay safe from harm
  • provide safe water, warm clothing, hygiene kits and other lifesaving supplies to those in need

From Mexico to Haiti to the Philippines and beyond, UNICEF has helped rebuild communities post-quake for decades. Providing both immediate and long-term assistance, UNICEF helps ensure that children can continue to learn, that they have access to mental health and psychosocial support and that they are protected from violence and other threats to their safety and well-being. 

Read about UNICEF's lifesaving response to devastating earthquakes in Syria and Turkey.

Help UNICEF continue to support children and families through disasters. Please donate.

Top photo: Iker, 9, and his sister Yeimire, 6, stand outside their home which was destroyed in an earthquake in San Andrés Hueyapan, Tetela del Volcán municipality, Morelos, Mexico. ©UNICEF/UN0125939/Solís