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9 September, 2016 – SOS Children's Villages wins 2016 Princess of Asturias Award for Concord

SOS Children’s Villages has been awarded the Princess of Asturias Award for Concord, a prestigious recognition bestowed by the Royal Family of Spain.

The Concord Award is one of eight prizes awarded by the Princess of Asturias Foundation. Its aim is to recognise those "whose work contributes in a relevant way to the defense of human rights, the promotion of peace, freedom, solidarity, protection of heritage and, in general, progress and understanding of humanity".

SOS Children’s Villages was nominated for the award by the Spanish former basketball player Amaya Valdemoro. A 31-member jury selected SOS Children's Villages as winner of the 2016 award.

His Majesty the King of Spain, in a letter to the President of SOS Children’s Villages International, Siddhartha Kaul, highlighted that the award recognised the organisation “for its pioneering work over more than 70 years at an international level aimed at protecting children, a mission that gains even greater importance at times of international conflicts and disasters”.

Siddhartha Kaul responded: “We are honoured that SOS Children’s Villages has been named the recipient of the 2016 Princess of Asturias Award for Concord. In a world where millions of children and young people are denied their globally-accepted rights to care and protection, the world is facing a massive challenge. This award reflects not just the role that SOS Children’s Villages plays in 134 countries and territories, but the need for a global movement to ensure that every single child can grow up with love and respect."

Pedro Puig, the President of SOS Spain, thanked the jury and said, "This award is for each and every one of our children, because they really are, with their effort and example, what dignifies our work and teaches us that despite the difficulties it is always possible to move forward".

The award will be presented this October at a ceremony in Oviedo chaired by The King and Queen of Spain.

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8 March, 2016 – SOS Children's Villages responds to the European Union's negotiations with Turkey regarding refugees

– No child who has had to flee armed conflict should then have to endure barriers – be they razor wire or intolerance – upon arrival in Europe. Children and young people who have grown up surrounded by death, hardship and dislocation need to be welcomed with care and love, not more trauma and hatred.

"Young refugees need – and have a right to – special protection, as affirmed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (article 22), and children enjoy special protection under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (article 24). Protecting child refugees and migrants, and especially unaccompanied or separated children, must be the priority," says Andreas Papp, International Director of Emergency Response at SOS Children's Villages. "We call on European leaders to create a humanitarian corridor and allow safe passage for children and their immediate families. More barriers are neither a sound policy nor a humanitarian response when it comes to vulnerable children."

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17 February, 2016 – SOS Children's Villages comments on the UN's latest report on children and armed conflict

– We welcome the report of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict for highlighting the detrimental impact on children of today’s armed conflicts. We fully endorse her call that special attention be given to the education and health of children affected by war.

Childhood must not be a game of chance played on the front lines of today’s conflicts. The targeting of schools and hospitals, the deliberate denial of food and medicines, and holding young people hostage have become a norm with tragic consequences for children. The rights to care, safety and freedom from exploitation as combatants are protected under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Even in times of conflict, no child should be deprived of access to their family, shelter, healthcare, education or food.

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12 February, 2016 – SOS Children's Villages responds to the news of an agreed halt to hostilities in Syria

– SOS Children’s Village’s International welcomes today’s international agreement on a cessation of hostilities in Syria. Children’s rights are universal and unconditional. We hope that the cessation of hostilities will lead to a rapid improvement in conditions for supporting vulnerable children. But in any situation – whether in war or in peace – children’s rights are not open for negotiation. It should never, even in wartime, be acceptable for children to go without food, shelter, and care.

Alongside our colleagues in other organisations working to relieve the suffering of children and other civilians, we wait to see how the reality of a halt to the fighting is reflected on the ground in Syria. Our hope is very much that the besieged areas such as Madaya, Kafaya and Foah, alongside the other 13 encircled towns identified by the UN, are allowed full access to humanitarian aid and medical supplies

On Monday [15 February] a meeting is being hosted by the MENA Emergency Response Team to further refine our interventions in Syria for the six months ahead. As always our objective will be to support unaccompanied and separated children, and through the early days of next week we will determine how we can have the greatest impact.

Five years of conflict have taken a severe toll on Syria. The impact on children is particularly alarming. The UN estimates that some 7.6 million children in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance, while more than 2 million young people in the country and those who have fled to neighbouring nations are out of school. More than 250,000 people have died in the conflict since 2011. There are tens of thousands of unaccompanied children and minors having lost one or two parents or who have been separated due to the war.

Regardless of how long this cessation of hostilities lasts, SOS Children’s Villages will do all that we can to assist the children of Syria.

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21 January, 2016 – SOS Children's Villages announces charity parternship with RyanAir

– SOS Children’s Villages UK has secured the support of Europe’s No 1 airline, Ryanair. As the airline’s nominated European charity partner for 2016, SOS Children’s Villages UK will receive a donation of over £100,000 to help provide orphaned and vulnerable children with a stable and positive family life. The partnership will be supported by various fundraising activities throughout the year.

SOS Children’s Villages protects and improves the lives of children in 125 countries, including 30 European countries – many of which are served by Ryanair routes. SOS Children’s Villages CEO Simon Etherington said: “We are delighted to be chosen as Ryanair’s European charity partner. There is a very strong correlation between Ryanair’s footprint and our own activities in those countries, and this provides an excellent basis for working together on a number of exciting fundraising initiatives. The funds raised by Ryanair’s staff and customers will further our work of ensuring that every child grows up in a family: loved, respected and protected.”

Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs said: “We look forward to launching a number of initiatives over the next 12 months to raise significant funding for SOS Children’s Villages, who do so much to help orphaned and abandoned children. Our customers will be able to support this partnership throughout the next year.”

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15 January, 2016 – SOS Children’s Villages to protect children in besieged Madaya, Syria

– SOS Children’s Villages has gained access to the besieged town of Madaya, Syria, to carry out a rapid assessment of the dire situation vulnerable children are currently facing.

SOS Children’s Villages was the only international aid organisation allowed access to Madaya yesterday. During the mission, the SOS Children’s Villages emergency response team is identifying the most pressing child protection issues. The assessment includes household surveys to identify the children who most urgently need to come into their care. The team’s priority is unaccompanied children and severely malnourished children.

The UN reports that 300 to 400 people are severely malnourished and thousands of others are starving. Some 40,000 residents of the besieged town of Madaya have gone without adequate food for at least six months following the imposition of a government blockade on supplies to the area. No aid has reached the town since October.

The SOS team has heard many harrowing stories of starvation and despair from residents who had managed to escape the town. Abeer Pamuk, a member of the SOS emergency response team, explains that none of the children she has seen in the area look healthy.

“They were all incredibly pale and skinny. They could barely walk or talk. Their teeth are black, their gums are bleeding, and they have lots of health problems. They are obviously not getting the food they need to grow normally – they look so small and much younger than they actually are,” says Abeer.

Last week, the ban on access to Madaya was lifted by the Syrian government and humanitarian agencies given permission to deliver aid. SOS Children’s Villages was among the aid organisations queuing with trucks full of food and medical supplies outside the Syrian town for several days.

The situation in Madaya is not unusual in Syria. An estimated 4.5 million Syrians live in areas that are hard to reach and as many as 400,000 people are under siege in various locations around the country.

SOS Children’s Villages has been present in Syria throughout the conflict, providing shelter, warm clothes, bedding and delivering food to over 60,000 families. They have also helped 16,000 children return to school and are looking after over 1,000 unaccompanied children in Interim Child Care Spaces across the country.

You can help SOS Children’s Villages support families forced from home in Syria and beyond by visiting: http://www.soschildrensvillages.org.uk/news/refugee-crisis-appeal

For further information please contact the SOS Children’s Villages UK Press Office at: +44 (0)12 2336 5589 or press@soschildrensvillages.org.uk

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4 December, 2013 – SOS Children's Villages UK brings Wikipedia into the classroom

– A child-friendly version of Wikipedia, specially designed for use in the classroom, has been launched by children's charity SOS Children's Villages UK. Wikipedia for Schools is a selection of articles from the Wikipedia website organised around core school subjects.

The internet is a fantastic educational resource, but many parents and teachers are concerned about the numerous hazards young people face when browsing the web. Even Wikipedia can present difficulties at times. Because content is written and edited by users, articles are vulnerable to vandalism. And its encyclopaedic nature means that many articles are on subjects which some parents would consider unsuitable for their children. Occasionally, information is inaccurate, and the sheer volume of content makes it easy to get distracted.

SOS Children's Villages UK wanted to overcome this problem. As a global charity providing quality education to over 130,000 children worldwide, SOS Children's Villages UK wanted to turn Wikipedia into a safe environment for school-age children. Articles are checked by staff and volunteers to ensure material is suitable for children and relevant for the classroom. Any inappropriate material, from gratuitous bad language to unnecessary sexual content, is removed, while content key to children’s learning is left untouched.

Safe learning for every child

Wikipedia for Schools is targeted at secondary-level students. However, the breadth of content - 6,000 articles, 50,000 images and 26 million words - makes it useful to children of all ages. It also contains a range of carefully-selected articles chosen to reflect the interests of children more broadly. Better still, teachers and parents can download it if they wish children to learn away from the dangers of the net.

“Wikipedia for Schools brings safe learning within the reach of every child,” says Alistair Barry, acting CEO of SOS Children's Villages UK. “It is easy for students to navigate because articles are arranged by school subject, and teachers and parents can rest assured that children are protected from the kind of unsuitable content they might find elsewhere on the web.”

SOS Children's Villages UK began work on Wikipedia for Schools in 2005, and the new version is the fourth edition of the project. It was originally intended as an offline learning resource for children in developing countries. The project has been immensely successful in countries such as India, Kenya and South Africa, but is also used in schools in the UK, Australia and the US.

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12 November, 2013 – SOS Children's Villages are appealing for funds to help with emergency relief efforts in the Philippines following super typhoon Haiyan.

– One of the strongest typhoons ever to make landfall has devastated the central Philippines, killing up to 10,000 people and leaving millions, including many children, struggling to survive without food, shelter or clean drinking water. 

Among the hardest hit areas was coastal Tacloban in central Leyte province. The storm passed directly over Tacloban City, with wind gusts up to 235 miles per hour, directly impacting the SOS Children’s Village in the city, where more than 150 children and young people live.

Whilst all children and staff at the project are safe, the SOS Children’s Village Director Mr.Oscar Garol described a scene of utter destruction: “The Village buildings were badly damaged. Children managed to escape to safety with their SOS mothers by climbing onto the rooftops. The surroundings were ravaged, with mud all over the place and I could see many scattered dead bodies.”

There are currently eight Children’s Villages in the Philippines and others in the affected region (Calbayog, Cebu and Iloilo) emerged from the storm unscathed.

Despite Tacloban remaining largely inaccessible, SOS Children's Villages has launched an emergency appeal and will focus on getting food, safe water and hygiene supplies to children and families as quickly as possible.

Meryl Davies, SOS Children's Villages UK Fundraising Director says: “Children are our first priority. Many will have lost their parents or been separated from their families. With nearly half a century of local expertise to draw on, we have been able to respond immediately: providing shelter, food and essential support to children and families who have suffered the most.”

On average, 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, with two or three causing widespread devastation. Haiyan is the 25th storm to enter the Philippines this year and is the most powerful to strike land since records began.

To find out more

To find out more, get in contact  by emailing press@soschildren.org or calling 01223 365 589.

 

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