September 7 2012

Children's rights must be upheld in Syria

Through increased investment over the past decade, Syria attained universal primary education. This positive achievement could quickly become undone if children continue to be deprived of their rights.

Richard Pichler -"children
 Richard Pichler - "rights must be upheld" © S. Posingis
"Even in times of conflict, every child has the right to protection, food, health provision and education. The death or injury of any child as a result of civil unrest can only be regarded as inhumane", says Mr Richard Pichler, the Secretary General of SOS Children’s Villages International.

"Our teams in Damascus and Aleppo are working tirelessly to support the children in their care. We are also assisting over 3,900 individuals, many of whom are now homeless because of the hostilities. This number is likely to rise significantly in the weeks ahead. Many are participants in our long established Family Strengthening Programme in Damascus, people whose rights must be upheld", he said. 



Across Syria many children cannot exercise their right to play, not alone attend schoold © REUTERS/Yazan Homsy
Across Syria many children cannot exercise their right to play, not alone attend school © REUTERS/Yazan Homsy

Families strengthening families

Participants in the SOS Family Strengthening Programme were poor before the current upheaval. Nevertheless, in a show of solidarity many now share their homes and meagre resources with others who have lost everything. In close collaboration with partner organisations, SOS Children’s Villages is providing them with the support they desperately need.

"Food, medicines, toiletries and other essential supplies are getting through. However, prolonged fighting is impinging on the rights of millions of children. Many of whom cannot exercise their right to play not alone attend school", said Mr Pichler. 


Getting them to school - Since the 70s SOS Children
Getting them to school - Since the 1970s SOS Children's Villages has helped foster a better understanding of children's rights in Syria © SOS Archives

The right to return to school

For over eight years, up to the commencement of current hostilities, Syrian authorities and civil society showed a growing understanding and commitment to children’s rights. In a spirit of cooperation with SOS Children’s Villages and others, it was evident that attitude and policy was gradually shifting for the better. The events of the past 18 months should not erode that progress.

Mid-September signals the beginning of a new school term in Syria. Many teachers and children are desperate to return. However, as school buildings are destroyed, inaccessible or occupied by displaced families, class cannot resume for many of Syria’s eight million school-goers. In a challenging environment SOS teams are doing what they can to address the situation to ensure that Syria’s children can exercise the right to return to school.