06/27/2006 - Ottawa, Canada: As SOS Children's Villages continues to offer emergency shelter to families and children seeking refuge in the four SOS Villages in Lebanon, the organization is planning for the long road back to recovery.
The newest SOS Village in Lebanon, Ksamaba now sits isolated in the eye of the storm
"We are very concerned that the considerable generous support which SOS Lebanon receives from organizations and individuals in that country will be severely curtailed as infrastructures within Lebanon continue to disintegrate," said SOS Children’s Villages Canada National Director Dave Greiner.
"While we continue to respond to the needs of families and children threatened by the ongoing conflict, we are well aware that as the crisis continues, there will be huge demands placed on our operations in Lebanon. More than 50 years of experience in dealing with war and catastrophe around the world continues to bring us face to face with the devastating realities for children – loss of family, injury, starvation and trauma. Our work will continue long after the bombs stop falling," he explained.
Working in more than 130 countries, SOS Children's Villages is the world's largest orphan-focused charity. The organization is recognized for its long-term commitment to the orphaned and abandoned children under its care, as well as to the medical and social outreach operations and family strengthening programs which it operates around the world to benefit the communities adjacent to its Villages.
Operating in Lebanon since 1969, the organization has reluctantly evacuated its national offices in Beirut. While all four villages remain open, SOS Ksarnaba, located in the centre of the fighting zone is now virtually cut off.
Children at SOS Children's Village Ksamaba. Little respite from the sounds of war.
"We have major concerns, both for the children and staff who are in Ksarnaba Village as well as for the children and staff who were away from the Village on holidays and are now trying to return," Mr. Greiner said.
He confirmed that contrary to earlier reports, Ksarnaba Village had not been evacuated. "We can’t be assured of the children's complete safety during an evacuation. Recent incidents of firing on aid convoys in the region have made us very wary," he continued. "The locations of all four SOS Children's Villages in Lebanon are well known to both sides of the conflict but all precautions are being taken and SOS Lebanon is closely monitoring the situation."
Mr. Greiner went on to explain that while the children at Ksarnaba Village are under no immediate physical threat, the relentless bombardment around them is taking its toll. "Both the children and their caregivers are under an immense amount of stress and the continuous sound of grenades and bombs is terrifying," he said.
In other parts of southern Lebanon SOS Children's Villages Sferai, has launched an emergency relief program and is supporting families forced from their homes who have found shelter in a neighboring state school. The SOS Sferai is providing urgently needed food, medication, fresh water, clothing and diapers. SOS Village Bhersaf is also providing shelter to individuals from high risk areas who have made their way to its doors.
In the North, the number of refugees continues to rise. SOS Children’s Villages is working with government relief bodies to coordinate aid programs and to assess how SOS can best help. Children will remain the chief focus of SOS relief efforts.
SOS Children's Villages Syria has joined the Syrian Red Crescent in Damascus to provide aid to refugee families from Lebanon. As thousands of people flee the conflict in Lebanon and make their way to Syria, aid organizations are organizing major relief efforts to secure shelter, food and medical care.
"Because of our long history in the Lebanon, our colleagues at SOS Children’s Villages Lebanon have the expertise and experience to meet the huge challenges ahead, " said Mr. Greiner. "Our job here at SOS Children's Villages Canada, is to work to ensure that SOS Lebanon is supported in vital work for children in the years ahead. "Local fundraising in Lebanon is at a standstill, and we have thousands of children who will need our care for many years to come."
SOS Children's Villages currently operates four Villages, three SOS Youth Facilities, three Kindergartens and three Social Centres in Lebanon.