The devastating escalation of conflict in the Gaza strip and Israel has already led to the loss of hundreds of lives, injured thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands of families. As always, children who are the most vulnerable are being hardest hit.
Homes, hospitals, schools and critical infrastructure, including electricity supply, have been destroyed or affected in both locations.
The lives of our staff and the children and families we work with are at risk, and we desperately hope for a speedy end to hostilities. We call on all sides to take immediate steps to protect children and respect international human rights and humanitarian laws.
SOS Children’s Villages staff are working hard to keep children safe. Our focus is on providing immediate relief and support to those who are impacted by this crisis, while also considering the longer-term needs of vulnerable children and families in the affected areas.
It is a very changeable situation and news is moving quickly. However, we heard earlier from local staff.
Ghada Hirzallah, Interim National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Palestine, stated:
“The situation in SOS Children’s Village Rafah is stable. Twenty-two families we support through our family strengthening programmes were evacuated to UN schools in an assumedly safe zone, others to their relatives’ homes. However, it is with great sadness that we report that a participant on our youth programme and his family have passed away.”
“The situation in SOS Children’s Village Bethlehem is also stable. The entrances to many cities in the West Bank, including Bethlehem, Hebron, and Ramallah, have been closed.”
“We are constantly in contact with colleagues from Gaza. The situation is still ongoing, and we will keep monitoring it to take necessary actions when needed.” she concludes.
While, Nelly Geva, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Israel said:
“We are at the end of a holiday season, which means that many children living in SOS Children’s Villages families visited their biological parents. We have checked that they are all ok.”
“Our staff are looking after the children and the young people in the villages, making sure they are safe and protected.” she explains.
As well as ensuring children in their care are safe, SOS Children’s Villages Palestine and SOS Children’s Villages Israel are directly responding to the situation in several ways:
- Implementing security measures which aim to mitigate the impact of the conflict on all locations, on the families and on other SOS Children’s Villages participants.
- Providing mental health and psychosocial support to children, and the adults who take care of the children, in the different children’s Villages.
- Stocking up on food and non-food items to enable the children’s Villages to operate for a few weeks.
Both organisations are monitoring this fast-moving crisis closely, and plan to initiate further relief measures in coordination with other humanitarian organisations and UN agencies.
As always, at the centre of our efforts remain the children, young people and families who we support.
SOS Children’s Villages Israel has been working since 1977, providing family-based care to children who have either lost their parents or have no-one to care for them. We also work preventively in local communities so that children can still grow up in their own families, and support young adults so they can fend for themselves.
SOS Children’s Villages Palestine has been present since 1968, working to ensure that families are able to take care of their children, and also co-ordinating with local groups to reach as many people as possible. In addition, we have two children’s villages, in Bethlehem and Rafah respectively, where children are cared for within SOS Children’s Villages families. We have also previously supported families through relief efforts in situations where this has been necessary.
Photo: Brianna Amick, Pexels.com
Our Emergencies Fund equips us to act swiftly and effectively to support children and families during emergency situations such as this, and to build resilience against future disaster in the communities we support. Please donate to this Fund to enable us to respond when crises occur.