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06-02-2024 | Latest News , Middle East , Europe & Central Asia

Syria Earthquake: A day of tragedy with enduring impact

On 6 February 2023, two earthquakes, each registering a magnitude of 7.8 struck the northwest region of the country. This natural disaster resulted in the tragic loss of thousands of lives and caused injuries to numerous others. Structures were devastated, leaving behind rubble where homes once stood.

Um Hussein, a 65-year-old woman from Aleppo and a mother of three children with disabilities, shared her harrowing experience: “When the earthquake hit, we were asleep. Suddenly, there was a loud noise. The doors shook violently. I hope we never have to endure such a moment again.”

Survivors of the earthquake found temporary refuge in collective shelters or with extended family members. Many had no choice but to return to their partially damaged homes, carrying with them the enduring memory of that day, which continues to affect their physical and mental health. Um Hussein poignantly remarked, “Do you think the earthquake is over? It is not; it continues to live in my heart.”

These earthquakes added to the challenges faced by Syrians, who have been enduring the effects of a prolonged conflict lasting thirteen years. The economic downturn, exacerbated by this crisis, has severely impacted the local economy and people’s ability to meet their daily needs. Syrians are increasingly struggling to afford essentials, with soaring prices for food and fuel hitting the most vulnerable people the hardest. Um Hussein expressed how severe the situation was: “Tea is really expensive; a bottle of oil costs twenty-five thousand Syrian pounds. We can’t even think about cheese; I haven’t had it at home in ten years.” The reliance on humanitarian aid has become more pronounced, especially for the children of Syria.

Note to Editors:

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has been present in Syria since 1967, is dedicated to addressing the needs of the Syrian population. Currently we are providing secure access to clean water and essential services for more than 12 million Syrians, ensuring economic security for over 3 million Syrians by facilitating access to food and income generation, and working to mitigate the dire consequences of weapon contamination in heavily affected communities. The ICRC is also actively engaged in supporting missing persons and detainees, as well as those stranded in camps with no prospects for a future, particularly vulnerable children.

Established in 1863, the ICRC operates worldwide helping people affected by conflict and armed violence and promoting the laws that protect victims of war. A neutral, independent and impartial organization, its mandate stems from the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

For more information, please contact:

Jessica Moussan (Dubai):  +971 50 425 4091


Length: 12:51

Location: Syria – Aleppo.

Date of Filming: December 2023.

Copyright: ICRC access all.

On screen credit: ICRC logo attached to story.


Format: HD, MP4, 1.6 GB.

Videography: External.

Editor: Ammar Saboh.

Language: Arabic.

00:00 SOUNDBITE Um Hussein (in Arabic):

Um Hussein is a widow in her sixties, a mother of three children with disabilities. She lives in a fragile house in Eastern Aleppo that was impacted by the conflict and partially damaged by the earthquake. She spent 40 days in a tent in the street with her family during the harsh cold winter last year.  Um Hussein’s family was displaced several times during the 13 years of conflict.  She faces many challenges related to her health condition and providing care for her three children.


00:00 – 00:07: “My name is Sabiha Al-Wais, they call me Um Hussein. I am 65 years old, and I’m from Aleppo city.

00:08 – 00:11: Our financial situation is bad, but thank God, there are some good people who help us.

0:12 – 00:22: There is no electricity. I only have a small battery; we charge it at the neighbours’ house so we can have light at night.

0:23 - 00:39: I don’t have a washing machine; I do my washing by hand. Today, a bag of detergent is 15,000 SYP for half a kilo. I swear, every day I wash the clothes by hand and spread them out to dry. This is our situation even before the earthquake.

00:40 – 00:56: When the earthquake hit, we were asleep. Suddenly, we heard a thunder, may this never happen again. The doors started shaking heavily.

00:57 – 01:06: I left the bedroom to the living room, I looked back to my three disabled children, they can’t move

01:07 – 01:15: I threw myself on them and said, Oh God, save us.

After the first earthquake stopped, I turned on the heater for my kids, then the second earthquake happened, there were only a few seconds/minutes between them

01:16 – 01:21: The oil container fell over the heater and a fire started, then the main door closed shut because of the earthquake.

01:22 – 01:36: I turned on the flashlight and threw a blanket over the heater with a bottle of water as well. Thank God the fire was put down.

01:37 – 01:45: We suffered a lot after the earthquake

During the month of Ramadan [March to April 2023], it was cold and everything was expensive. Ramadan came and prices spiked like crazy

01:46 – 01:49: Tea is expensive. A bottle of oil is for twenty-five thousand Syrian pounds.

01:50 – 01:59: We wanted Halawa (a sesame butter with sugar, a traditional Syrian sweet that was very affordable), but I couldn’t buy it. We wanted cheese, don't even mention cheese; I think the last time I had it in the house was ten years ago.

02:00 – 02:07: I couldn’t manage, I couldn’t afford to buy vegetables to store them during their season when the prices are cheap.

02:08 – 02:10: What should I do? Spend money on medication for my children or buy basic needs?

02:11 – 02:18: Now winter is back, and it is so harsh. There is no fuel, nothing, and it is cold.

All day I keep the blankets on the kids.

02:19 – 02:34: I’m traumatized because of the earthquake, I mean, I had these psychological issues after the earthquake. After the Eid (holiday), I went to the doctor, and she gave me some medicine.

2:35 – 02:42: I couldn’t hear well, sometimes my kids would call me, but I couldn’t hear them, and I would get frustrated, and I’d tell them, I couldn’t hear you well.

2:43 – 02:47: I was trying to be strong in front of them, but my older son insisted I go to the doctor’s. So, I went, and the doctor also gave me some medicine

02:48 – 03:00: When I sleep at night, I think what if the earthquake hits again, I look at the walls and I remember those moments,

03:01 – 03:05: The earthquake is still here, it’s still in my heart.”

03:06 – 03:43: Um Hussein talking to her daughter.

03:44 – 03:51: Footage showing the cracks in Um Hussein’s house.

03:52 – 03:57: Um Hussein looking at the cracks.

03:58 – 04:26: Um Hussein taking care of her little home garden.

04:27 – 04:49: Um Hussein spreading the laundry.

04:50 – 05:49: Um Hussein cleaning her house.

05:50 – 06:04: Head shot of Um Hussein’s daughter in a wheelchair.

06:05 – 06:15: Close up on Um Hussein’s daughter playing with her fingers.

06:16 – 06:25: Um Hussein hanging clothes on the wall.

06:26 – 06:30: Medium shot of Um Hussein’s son in a wheelchair.

06:31 – 06:48: Um Hussein pushing her son outside.

06:49 – 07:30: Um Hussein putting her son in the wheelchair with some help from other kids in the neighbourhood.

07:31 – 08:34: Um Hussein pushing her son around the neighbourhood.

08:35 – 08:52: Um Hussein pushing her daughter around the neighbourhood.

08:53 – 09:09: Wide shot of Um Hussein with her son and daughter.

09:10 – 09:29: Um Hussein helping her son to drink water.

09:30 – 09:37: General shot of Um Hussein’s street showing kids playing.

09:38 – 10:04: Pan shot of destroyed houses.

10:05 – 10:31: Um Hussein walking with her son towards her other son and daughter.

10:32 – 10:45: Um Hussein’s daughter eating an orange.

10:46 – 11:08: Um Hussein sitting with her children in the street.

11:09 – 11:14: A wide shot of Um Hussein and her children.

11:15 – 11:20: Medium shot of Um Hussein and her children.

11:21 – 11:26: Um Hussein talking to ICRC staff.

11:27 – 11:32: Um Hussein walking and talking to ICRC staff.

11:33 – 11:42: Um Hussein washing the dishes in her house.

11:43 – 12:05: Shots form inside Um Hussein’s house.

12:06 – 12:13: Um Hussein organizing jars in her kitchen.

12:14 – 12:36: Um Hussein sitting with her children and talking to them.

12:37 – 12:41: Wide pan of Um Hussein.

12:42 – 12:51: Medium shot of Um Hussein.


Duration : 12m 52s
Size : 1.7 GB
On Screen Credit: ICRC or logo

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