“There is nowhere for children to hide in Damascus” says Rasha Muhrez, who leads SOS Children's Emergency Programme in Syria. “Families at the SOS Children’s Village are safe, but the future is difficult to tell. SOS Mothers and staff are comforting frightened children in every way they can.”
Rasha echoes what others are saying across Damascus: “The entire city is in fear of an imminent attack.” It is clear that families are right to feeling vulnerable in the current situation. Rumours of imminent attacks have caused a massive food inflation, with prices increasing twentyfold and leading to a lack of resources. Faced with these dire circumstances, it is estimated that on Wednesday alone, 10,000 Syrians sought refuge by crossing the borders out of the country.
SOS Children is doing what it can during the turbulent civil war to protect and support Syrian families. In Damascus, SOS Children provides a variety of essential provisions to 180 displaced families on a monthly basis. Over the past month, SOS Children has provided a total of 60,000 meals to displaced families in Damascus and Aleppo. Recipients are keen to express their gratitude for the support they are receiving. Meals were provided to displaced families who would otherwise have missed out on Ramadan - the biggest festive period in the Muslim calendar. In the rebel-held town of Daraa, we have provided 1,500 meals, bringing some joy during dark times.
Back to school
The escalation in the conflict has not deterred SOS Children from forging ahead with plans to get 6,000 children back to school in the month ahead. The team is now helping displaced children get the registration documents needed to get back into the classroom. As schools have been destroyed or used as homes for many of Syria’s 4.25 million internally displaced people, children will attend school in shifts.
SOS Children is arranging to pay school fees and provide books and stationary to those who have been deprived of the right to education for two years. Due to limited space, many of the children must attend school at night. Additional plans include the provision of much-needed winter clothing and bedding.
Rights of the child
Shockingly, at least one in ten of those who have lost their lives in Syria are children. SOS Children is calling on all parties to respect the rights of children and abide by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As leaders across the world consider the future of Syria, it is imperative that the well-being of children is prioritised.
“Rising inflation and ever-increasing tensions have left children scared, as their parents feel powerless. People on every side of the conflict share the same fears. They all plead for peace, for the sake of their children,” says Rasha.