Three weeks after Turkey-Syria major quake; Mental care comes into focus

Monday marks three weeks since a major earthquake hit southern Turkey near the Syrian border. While the death toll has passed 50,000, there is now a growing focus on the importance of psychological care for numerous survivors left homeless.

The magnitude-7.8 quake struck on February 6, followed by more jolts. The number of fatalities in Turkey has reached 44,374, while that in Syria has climbed to 5,914.

The Turkish government says more than 1.91 million people are currently living in tents or other temporary shelters. It also says psychological care has been provided to survivors and others in over 910,000 cases.

The UN children's fund, or UNICEF, underscores the need to offer mental care for quake-affected children, saying they could develop depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Against this backdrop, a puppet show based on Turkish folklore took place on Sunday for about 50 children in the southern province of Gaziantep.

A 13-year-old spectator said everyone has been in shock after the quake and that he is also scared of aftershocks. But he added that the play was very fun.

The show's puppeteer noted that some displaced children have tended to scream or turn violent suddenly, in possible signs of psychological stress they have been enduring.

The performer expressed willingness to continue the play until children can lead normal lives.