Rafah, a town of 150,000 in the south Gaza Strip has been cordoned off since yesterday, no-one is allowed to leave or come into the town. According to the latest reports from our project director on the ground, the SOS Children's Village has been surrounded by tanks and bulldozers since yesterday. What applies to the citizens of the whole town, also applies to the inhabitants of the Palestinian SOS Children's Village: leaving or entering the village grounds is forbidden, the kindergarten and school remain closed.
The co-worker team is facing great psychological pressure in the face of the latest developments, it is the children in particular, though, who suffer from the constant sound of combat and the threatening atmosphere around the village. "It's impossible to tell what's going to happen next", says the SOS Children's Villages Project Leader. "Anything is possible in Rafah."
The SOS Children's Villages in Bethlehem and Rafah are affected by the consequences of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at regular intervals. The village in Rafah has been operational since 2001, since which time it has served as a refuge for abandoned and orphaned children, at the same time, though, the SOS mothers and co-workers are hard pressed to deal with the traumatization of the children caused by the recurring conflict in the Palestinian Territories.
A high percentage of children in the Palestinian Territories suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, with symptoms which can range from sleeplessness to panic attacks and speechlessness. The complete inadequacy of available psychotherapeutic services for both children and their families led to SOS Children's Villages starting a mobile therapy centre in April 2003 in Bethlehem, which gives desperately needed psychological help to children, youths and their families at different locations on the West Bank.
You can find more information about this therapy facility in the "In Focus" section. More details about the SOS Children's Villages facilities in the Palestinian Territories can be found under "where we help".