Launching our Emergency Campaign in Türkiye in Response to the Earthquakes

Since the devastating earthquakes hit regions of southern Türkiye and north-west Syria just over a month ago, STOP THE TRAFFIK Group has been gathering intelligence to coordinate a response. We are proud to announce that the first phase of this response has started in the provinces of Hatay and Gaziantep.

Our intelligence shows that children are the most at-risk group in the region following the earthquake and so this initial phase will target 13–18-year-old boys and girls through video content on META (Facebook and Instagram) in Turkish and Arabic languages.

The young people reached through our campaign in areas impacted by the earthquake (such as Hatay and Gaziantep) will learn how to stay safe from exploitation as well as receive information about emergency national hotlines and contact details of support organisations on the ground.

Through this campaign, we aim to equip young people with safety advice and information about human trafficking and exploitation in order to build resilient communities with an increased perception of risk, gained knowledge and access to legitimate support.

This first phase of our response was developed in collaboration with key stakeholders on the ground and we will adapt the campaign based on the intelligence we receive.

Further background to our response

We now understand more about the trafficking risks that have emerged post-earthquake and this work will degrade trafficking routes and hotspots in the area, supporting at-risk communities.

One month after the earthquake, aftershocks continue, causing renewed fear, trauma and further destruction to the already fragile infrastructure. Over 2.7 million people have been displaced, with many living in temporary settlements, and about half in informal settlements.

1,915 unaccompanied children have been identified, of which 1,661 have been reunited with their families. Access to education has been hampered for nearly 4 million children, including 350,000 refugee and migrant children.

Our intelligence also tells us that:

  • Natural disasters create mass displacement, which has been repeatedly demonstrated to increase communities’ vulnerability to trafficking.
  • Children are separated from their primary caregivers; they are highly traumatised and especially trusting of adults during and after the crisis making them even more vulnerable to trafficking.
  • At-risk individuals are not aware of the support available to them on the ground that can help them.
  • At-risk individuals cannot distinguish between legitimate support organisations, and bad actors posing as NGOs. It is particularly difficult for a child or youth to discern whether an adult can be trusted, especially if that person is making false promises of finding the youth’s family.
  • Individuals are not aware of how or where to report their experiences in order to protect one another.

This is the first phase of a response that we anticipate will last many months. We are constantly gathering intelligence and so the campaign will constantly adapt to new information we receive from our collaborators and key partners on the ground. We are open to exploring new partnerships with complementary organisations that could add to our response and help reach more people who could be at risk.

Statistics in this blog have been taken from Türkiye: 2023 Earthquakes Situation Report No. 8, As of 9 March 2023

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