Turkish earthquake victim getting a pack of wipes from a relief worker. Image credit: Seth Rossman

Syrian family fears being forced away from Cardiff as relatives hit by Turkey earthquake

‘To be moved away from my sister would be another earthquake for me,’ says mother seeking asylum

A SYRIAN family of four seeking asylum in Cardiff fears being moved from their only family in the UK after losing friends and relatives in the Turkey-Syria earthquakes. 

Jane – who has asked us not to use her real name – lost her two cousins, aged only 25 and 22, in the earthquakes that hit the Gaziantep province of Turkey and north-west Syria on February 6. Several days later, she found out her close friend in Turkey had died in the quake, too.

“When they said they found my friend’s dead body – it was hard to wrap my head around because we talked all the time,” said Jane.

On February 6 – the day the mother of two was told about the death of her cousins – she also had to wait an agonising six hours to find out whether her elderly parents in Turkey had survived.

“I just needed someone to tell me if my parents were alive or not. I couldn’t sleep, and I still can’t,” said Jane.

“I worry for my parents’ safety constantly. Aftershocks could continue for months and the buildings have so many cracks – they aren’t safe.”

Five year old Syrian girls picture a sad Jesus - because of the Earthquakes in Turkey
A Syrian child drew this picture of Jesus with a sad face. The family has shared it with The Cardiffian.

When the 7.8 magnitude tremor hit the city of Gaziantep, Jane’s 75-year-old parents ran, to the best of their ability, barefoot through the crumbling streets. 

Jane remains distressed about her parents’ health and safety, as they are now homeless and without vital medication. Her father has diabetes and weak knees while her mother struggles to walk independently. 

“I cried so much – I just don’t have any tears left. I feel helpless my parents are there and I am here,” said Jane.

Mama, I am all alone while grandma and grandpa are under the rubble.”

Jane’s five-year-old daughter

The toll has been felt by the whole family, especially her five-year-old daughter.

“I saw her crying to a cartoon about a girl called Flona, who was uprooted from her family. She told me ‘Mama, I’m like Flona. I am all alone while grandma and grandpa are under the rubble’,” said Jane.

“My daughter doesn’t express herself often but I know she thinks about everything. The other day she drew Jesus with a sad face. I asked ‘Why does he have a sad face?’ and she told me he was upset about Turkey and Syria.”

The family not only worry for the survival of their loved ones in Syria and Turkey, as they now face being moved to Swansea – away from their only adult relative in the UK, Jane’s sister.

“To be moved away from my sister – it would be another earthquake for me. I have been displaced from Turkey and Syria and now I feel we are being forced away from our only support system.” 

My kids are now used to this place. I don’t want to rip them away again.”


The family of four arrived in Cardiff on October 2, after fleeing Turkey, where they had lived for 10 years, due to fears of deportation. Turkey has been deporting hundreds of Syrians back to their home country since February 2022.

Jane’s two young children have become settled in Cardiff and she worries uprooting them again will affect their mental well-being.

“My kids are now used to this place. I don’t want to rip them away again. My son runs up to our neighbours every time he sees them. He thinks they are his grandparents.”

They have been told their move to long-term accommodation in Swansea is imminent. The move would be their fourth since their arrival in the UK in October and would mean a third school move for their daughter.  

The family’s request to stay in Cardiff has been rejected by the Home Office.

Teachers, doctors, and people in the community have also sent letters to the Home Office asking for the family to stay in Cardiff. They say moving away from the city in the midst of the catastrophe would be detrimental to the family’s mental health.

How does the Home Office decide where to place asylum seekers?

The Home Office has to consider the location of relatives and friends of asylum seekers when placing them in accommodation, abiding by Article 8 – the right to privacy and family life – of the European Convention on Human Rights. 

However, being accommodated near loved ones is not guaranteed.

The family have sent another request to the Home Office to stay in Cardiff. They are awaiting a response.

The Home Office was approached for a comment and declined.