(24 March 2005) - Children in war-torn Darfur are exposed to hunger, loss and death, while many have been orphaned or separated from their families. At the various refugee camps in the region, a large number of young girls and single women are exposed to a high incidence of sexual and physical abuse. In order to provide even more specialised and professional psychological help to traumatised children and single mothers, SOS Children's Villages will expand its facilities in the Abu Shok refugee camp on the outskirts of El Fashir, which houses some 80,000 refugees.
SOS Children's Villages currently operates one SOS Family Centre, and a second facility will be opened shortly at the opposite end of the Abu Shok camp. These SOS Family Centres will provide hundreds of severely affected children and single mothers with much needed therapy and counselling, which will be carried out by the organisation's specialised staff.
Of those exposed to the tragedy, horror and violence of civil war, children in particular suffer from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, which often seriously affects a child's mental, emotional, and physical health. Due to the large number of single mothers at the Abu Shok camp, who have suffered multiple sexual and physical abuses and live in permanent fear of further maltreatment, SOS Children's Villages has added a "safe area" to its SOS Family Centre which is properly fenced and guarded.
Within this "safe area," single mothers will help care for their own children, as well as for other orphaned and unaccompanied children, under the guidance of SOS Children's Village staff. Each mother will care for some seven to eight children, who will all receive temporary housing in a protected environment, food and other basic necessities.
"The ultimate aim of our work in Darfur is to support vulnerable mothers and children by helping them overcome their traumas, and by giving them a safe haven where they can feel protected from abuse," said Richard Pichler, Secretary-General of the umbrella organisation SOS-Kinderdorf International. "These mothers have suffered tremendously and require professional treatment and counselling in order to regain their courage and have the strength to get on with their lives."
SOS Children's Villages has been carrying out humanitarian work in Sudan since 1978 and operates two children's villages and three educational facilities. For the past eight months, SOS Children's Villages, together with the ICRC and local authorities, has also been operating a reintegration project for former child soldiers in southern Sudan. Under this programme, some 280 child soldiers were successfully reunified with their families and a further 200 to 300 will be reunified in the future.
SOS Children's Villages is a non-governmental and non-denominational organisation working for orphaned, abandoned and destitute children in 132 countries and territories. It provides long-term care for some 58,000 children and youths worldwide. In addition, more than 650,000 vulnerable children and their parents are supported with educational, social and medical services.
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