In 2011, people took to the streets calling for increased levels of democracy and freedom. These protests then turned violent and civil war followed. Children in Syria today need our protection more than ever. During these times of conflict, we are carefully monitoring the situation in order to ensure the safety of the children and families in our care.
The tense security situation affected all areas of life
Aleppo is Syria’s most populous city, with around 2.1 million inhabitants, and is located in the north of the country. Since the beginning of the Syrian uprising that started in March 2011, there have been almost daily reports of shootings, bombings, deaths and injuries. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency more than 1.2 million people had fled to the neighbouring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq by April 2013.
The tense security situation has affected the lives of all Syrians since the conflict started. The economic conditions of the country have deteriorated. The price of goods, especially those that have to be imported, has risen sharply. This has made it increasingly difficult for people to afford food and other basic goods.
Efforts to support the entire community
The second SOS Children’s Village in Syria was opened in 1998 in Khan El Assal, near Aleppo. Today, the support we provide to the local community and to vulnerable children is as important as ever. The SOS Family Strengthening Programme reaches out to struggling families in the neighbourhood and provides food, clothing, medical care and education.
In times of peace, access to education is one of our priorities. When families struggle to make ends meet, this often means that children are taken out of school, either because they need to contribute to the family income or because their parents cannot afford the costs of school uniforms, materials and books, or transportation to and from school. Without an education, however, children’s prospects for the future are very limited and their cognitive development is hindered. We assist children so that they can attend school, for example by providing stationery, private tuition where needed, and material support to the family.
What we do in Aleppo
Before the conflict started, children from the region who were no longer able to live with their parents, could find a loving home in one of the twelve SOS families. In each family, the children lived with their brothers and sisters, affectionately cared for by their SOS mother. These families have stayed together during the civil war, moving to safer facilities when needed.
When young people who grew up in one of the SOS families feel ready to move out of home in order to study, receive training or work, the SOS Youth Programme continues to support them as they make the transition into independent adulthood. The young adults live together, in our youth houses for boys and for girls, supervised and guided by a qualified SOS counsellor. We are working very hard to make sure that the young people stay safe.
Since August 2012, we have also been providing emergency relief to the local population.