As Syria enters its eighth year of war in March, SOS Children’s Villages continues to support at-risk children and families and has expanded its capacity to meet the long-term care needs of children.
“We must never lose sight of the impact this terrible conflict has had on an entire generation of children,” said Alia Al-Dalli, International Director of the Middle East and North Africa Region for SOS Children’s Villages. “There is an overdue need to address the long-term care of children who have suffered from violence, family loss and separation, the disruption of education, and the loss of a peaceful childhood.”
SOS Children’s Villages has worked in Syria since the organisation opened its first village in Damascus in 1981. In the five years since SOS Children’s Villages Syria began emergency response activities, it has helped an estimated 93,000 children and 52,000 families affected by the conflict.
SOS Children’s Villages emergency response programs (ERPs) are located in Aleppo, Damascus, as well as Tartous. SOS Children’s Villages Syria has responded throughout much of the civil war with child friendly spaces (CFSs), interim care, medical and educational support and humanitarian assistance. It has successfully worked with local and international partners to provide sustained care for children, including those who have lost parents or are separated from their families.
This photo essay highlights some of our activities over the past year.
SOS Children’s Villages works to ensure that hundreds of children in the Damascus area who left school to help support their families are able to return to the classroom. Families receive allowances for food, heating and rent so the children can resume their studies. Through the back-to-school project, the children also receive classroom supplies, school uniforms and shoes.
SOS Children’s Villages has opened its second village in the Damascus area, extending its long-term commitment to vulnerable children in the country. “We work hard every day to protect children in our care and to meet their needs, whether they are living in the SOS Children’s Village or in other homes,” says Ghufran Awera, Director of the new SOS Children’s Village Saboura.
Boys play football at SOS Children’s Village Saboura, while others visit the playground shortly after the village opened in October 2017.
The SOS Children’s Villages Drop-in Centre opened in November 2017 for younger children and adolescents who have left school to help support their families. The centre on the eastern outskirts of Damascus is providing children from embattled areas of Syria with urgently needed care and temporary shelter. “Most of the children coming to the centre are affected by trauma because of the war, the pressure to earn money, and there are also cases of sexual and physical abuse,” says Mohammad Massoud, centre Project Manager. “It is essential that we are able to respond to the psychological, health and basic educational needs of these children.”
SOS Children’s Village Syria works with partner organisations to provide interim care for unaccompanied and separated children in Tartous, a coastal region that is a major destination for people fleeing fighting in other parts of the country. SOS Children’s Villages also operates a Child Friendly Space in Tartous to provide recreational activities, and supports education and tutoring for hundreds of children.
SOS Children’s Villages Syria opened two Child Friendly Spaces in the Aleppo region in 2017. One opened in January in rural Aleppo’s Jibrien area, and a second opened in August in the city of Aleppo. The CFSs provide recreational and educational activities, psychological and emotional care, and basic health services.
During a prolonged siege in the northern city of Aleppo in late 2016 and early 2017, SOS Children’s Villages provided water to more than 16,000 people, many of whom had lost their homes or were living in makeshift shelters.
Food and other humanitarian supplies were also provided to children and families in Aleppo, where years of fighting have taken a heavy toll on schools, hospitals and other public services. “Everywhere I went I asked children what they want to become when they are older. They told me they want to become a baker, a doctor or a teacher – all the things they don’t have,” said Andreas Papp, Director of Emergency Response for SOS Children’s Villages International, after visiting Damascus and the devastated city of Aleppo.
Canadian's wishing to help are encouraged to make a donation to the SOS MAYDAY Emergency Fund.