March 25 2004
Tense Situation in SOS Children's Village Rafah in the Gaza Strip
25/03/2004 - After the killing of Hamas founder Sheik Yassin, the conflict in the Gaza Strip is intensifying anew. This has also led to a tense atmosphere in SOS Children's Village Rafah. Two families have moved out of their family houses into other buildings.
Once again, SOS Children's Village Rafah in the south Gaza Strip finds itself in a contested area, shots can be heard immediately around the village. Although there have been no incidents in SOS Children's Village Rafah itself as yet, the critical situation has led to two families having to move temporarily from their family homes, which lay exposed, into other buildings in the village.
In the SOS Children's Village, which is home to 95 children at the moment, food and water supplies have been stocked up as a precautionary measure. The SOS Kindergarten is, for safety reasons, staying closed for the time being.
The difficult living conditions have almost become part of the daily life of the village director and the SOS mothers. Fear and anger prevail among the population, yet the people continue to hope for peace.
SOS Children's Village Rafah was already frequently affected by curfews and caught in the firing line with the disputes in the Gaza strip in 2002. Luckily, no-one was hurt.
The first contact with Bethlehem came as early as 1964, an SOS Children's Villages association was founded in 1966 and the go-ahead given for the construction of a first SOS Children's Village, which could be opened in Bethlehem in 1973. 1997 saw extension work done to the SOS Kindergarten built around ten years earlier and the construction of a new SOS Youth House. To complete the picture, an SOS Hermann Gmeiner Primary School was put into operation.
SOS Children's Village Rafah in the south Gaza Strip was not completed until the end of September 2001 and was moved into immediately. It is made up of twelve family houses and an SOS Kindergarten. An SOS Hermann Gmeiner School has also been in operation since Autumn 2001.