© 2024 254 North Front Street, Suite 300, Wilmington, NC 28401 | 910.343.1640
News Classical 91.3 Wilmington 92.7 Wilmington 96.7 Southport
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

Earthquake displaces Syrian refugees once again

An aerial view shows the destroyed buildings in the rebel-held town of Jindayris, Syria, on Feb. 9, 2023, three days after a deadly earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria. (Omar Haj Kadour/AFP via Getty Images)
An aerial view shows the destroyed buildings in the rebel-held town of Jindayris, Syria, on Feb. 9, 2023, three days after a deadly earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria. (Omar Haj Kadour/AFP via Getty Images)

Assalah Shikhani moved to Turkey 12 years ago — she was one of the thousands displaced by the Syrian war.

There, she built a life for herself and her two children in Antakya, working as a teacher for a school run by the Karam Foundation, which helps Syrian refugees in Syria, Turkey and the U.S.

Now, Shikhani finds herself displaced yet again, after the recent earthquake sent her home — and her life as she knew it — crumbling. Fortunately, Shikhani’s family, including her parents and her brother’s family, all survived. But that didn’t keep her young daughters, 14 and 6-years old, from asking tough questions no parents should have to answer.

“They said, ‘Mama, are we alive or dead now? Is this what you say is the afterlife? Why we are without shoes? Why is Allah doing this to us? Why [does] Allah want to torture us? What did we do?’”

For two days, Shikhani and other survivors awaited direction on what to do next. They sought warmth in their cars and outside, helpless to the cries of their neighbors still buried under the rubble.

Shikhani and her family were eventually able to get help from her employer and seek shelter in the Karam Foundation office in Reyhanli. But she doesn’t know what will happen now.

“As Syrian refugees, we left everything since 12 years ago. I came to Turkey, I started to make a new future,” she says. “But really, now, I’m so hopeless. It’s not easy to spend [another] 10 years more to settle down life again. After the earthquakes, there is no life. Because now we start, not from zero, but [lower than] zero.”

How to help earthquake victims:


Hafsa Quraishi produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Jill Ryan. Quraishi adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tags