October 18 2012

Children's rights in Syria are being violated every day

Children and innocent civilians are caught up in the on-going fighting in Syria. Children’s education has been severely disrupted, and families are struggling to access essential services. We are working to protect children living in SOS families in the two SOS Children’s Villages as well as offering vital support for affected displaced families.

Many families in Syria lack basic means © Adel Samara
According to UN agencies, approximately 1.5 million people are displaced in Syria; it is expected that the number of refugees in neighbouring countries (Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon) will reach up to 700,000 by the end of this year.

Children in Syria are exposed to extreme violence. Their death is tolerated as "collateral damage". SOS Children's Villages is deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of hundreds of thousands of children in Syria and is calling on all involved conflict parties to protect by all means the lives of the children.

We urge the government, the fighting opposition, all aid organisations on the ground and the international community to take every effort to ensure that children are not harmed - be it physically, emotionally or mentally. The long-term effects of post-traumatic stress disorder are devastating and can jeopardize a child's future development. As an organisation active in 133 countries, we have broad experience in working with traumatized children who often suffer from the consequences of trauma for a lifetime.

Displaced families need safe spaces where they can find shelter, are provided with basic supplies and have access to psychosocial care. Special attention has to be paid to unaccompanied and orphaned children. The work of politically neutral aid organisations has to be respected and facilitated by all involved conflict parties.


In a camp for internally displaced persons near the  border to Jordan © Adel Samara
Through our partnership with the NGO Syria Trust for Development, we are currently helping over 3,900 people, including many children who have found themselves homeless as a result of the conflict and are accommodated in schools or with relatives and often have to move constantly from one place to another.

Most of the affected families are from the poor, lower and lower-middle classes – families who had to struggle to make their living. Due to the conflict, many have now lost their jobs and homes and thus often have no means left. They depend on urgent external help. SOS Children's Villages is currently trying to obtain the necessary authorization from the Syrian authorities to extent its mandate for direct emergency intervention for more children and families in need, which would be done in cooperation with, for example, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the Syria Trust for Development. Types of intervention will differ according to priority: provision of food, medicines for children and adults, special nutrition for babies, psychosocial support for children, play activities etc.

What about the future of Syria's children? © Adel Samara
SOS Children's Villages has been working as a locally rooted organisation in Syria since 1980. We currently have two SOS Children’s Villages in the country, one in Qodsaya, 8 kilometres from the capital Damascus, and one in Aleppo, as well as youth care programmes and family strengthening programmes.

Due to the escalation of the conflict, SOS families in Qodsaya had to temporarily move to safer areas in July/August. In September, all children and youth people from Aleppo had to be evacuated to the SOS Children's Village in Qodsaya – for children and co-workers an extraordinary strain. We are doing all we can to safeguard the children in our care and ensure that they come to no harm.