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Emergency relief

At SOS Children's Villages, we believe every child should grow up with security and in a safe environment. When a natural disaster or conflict threatens children's safety, we take action to protect them and help families recover.

A mother and child emerge from a tent while SOS emergency staff look on
Mother and child receive support after floods in Pakistan

Our emergency work is informed by decades of supporting children and families. With established networks and local staff in 125 countries, we are well-placed to quickly respond.

Long term and community based

Our emergency relief focuses on vulnerable children, and strives to reunite families and keep them together. We have a long-term approach, and remain in a community after an emergency has passed to continue to support recovery efforts.

Currently we are providing emergency relief and ongoing support to vulnerable children and families in Syria and refugees across Europe:

In recent years, we have helped children and families in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, in Pakistan after devastating floods, in Haiti following the massive 2010 earthquake, and in South Asia after the 2004 tsunami and 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Read about our previous emergency appeals.

See our emergency work in action

From delivering essential supplies in the immediate aftermath of disaster to rebuilding community infrastructure, we strive to achieve permanent change for families touched by disaster. This short video, shot three years after the devastating earthquake which hit Haiti in early 2010, shows how short-term relief evolves into ongoing support.

Who do we help during emergencies? 

Our emergency relief work primarily focuses on:

  • A small girl sitting on a mat with another little girl in the background
    Small girl from Tacloban in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan
    Children who have lost parental care, including those who are unaccompanied and separated from their parents. If they cannot be reunited with their family, we often provide loving home in an SOS Children's Village, where they are supported by child sponsors
  • Children who are at risk of losing parental care. This includes families and communities affected by an emergency, who need support to provide care for their children and cope with the difficult circumstances.

What do we do during emergencies?

The support children and families need to overcome an emergency situation is varied and extensive. Here we explain the principles of our emergency work, and the many ways we offer help in extreme circumstances.

We provide services that are in the best interests of each child

Our emergency relief programmes are an extension of our existing activities, which put the interests and rights of children at the centre. These activities include child-care services, family support, education and basic healthcare. Generally, our emergency work is carried out from our existing locations, such as SOS Children's Villages.

Immediately after an emergency has occurred, we work to meet the basic survival needs of children and families. This includes providing food, water, shelter and healthcare. In the longer-term, we support the reopening of schools and community initiatives. Often, we provide child-friendly spaces where children have a safe space to learn and play while their parents rebuild their lives.

SOS emergency relief tents stretching as far as the eye can see
SOS emergency relief tents shelter families in Kashmir

We keep children together with their families

The key objective of our work, including our emergency programmes, is to enable children to grow and develop within a caring family environment. Therefore, we work to prevent family separation before, during and after an emergency occurs. Often in emergencies, we provide temporary shelter in a Children's Village, so that families can stay together.

When a crisis has left many children orphaned and abandoned, we often open a new Children's Village in the region. For example, SOS Children's Village Phuket was built in Thailand in the aftermath of the devastating tsunami in 2004. We have also recently opened a Children's Village in Sri Lanka, to home children orphaned by the country's long civil war. 

You can help these children grow up in loving homes by sponsoring a child today. When you become a child sponsor, regular updates and photos let you see your sponsored child grow.

Sirisha and Amita lost their mother in the 2004 tsunami. Today they live in SOS Children's Village Puducherry. Read their story...

Students sit at desks in front of the teacher inside a tent
Makeshift classroom in a tent in Haiti, after 2010 earthquake

We prepare for emergencies

To ensure we can respond quickly to emergencies, we assess the likelihood of potential emergency situations and make sure we are well prepared. Part of this preparedness involves developing the capacities, knowledge and skills of communities, and ensuring they are aware of risks.

We cooperate with others for an effective response

By coordinating with other organisations and local and national governments, we ensure that emergency relief is coordinated, effective and quickly reaches the people in need. Before emergencies we establish relevant partnerships. For example, with other child-protection organisations such as UNICEF, as well as international organisation, such as the UN, the World Health Organisation and the World Food Programme.

If you would like to help us stay prepared for emergencies so we can deliver vital care to children as soon as disaster strikes, have you considered making a monthly donation to SOS Children's Villages? 

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With SOS Children, all sponsored children get education, food, medical care and a loving family from the charity.