September 3 2012

Children survive Aleppo nightmare, but effects of war persist

03/09/2012 – On-going fighting across Syria has left women and children with reasons to worry. SOS Children’s Villages teams across the country are doing what is possible to provide the support they desperately need.

SOS Children's Villages keeping families strong in Syria @ REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
 SOS Children's Villages keeping families strong in Syria @ REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Residents of the SOS Children’s Village in Aleppo have survived a three-day nightmare following heavy fighting last week. Children continue to be comforted in the village by their mothers following a barrage of bombs and gunfire that has destroyed much of the surrounding neighbourhood in recent weeks. Moving the twelve families by road to a safer location has been deemed too precarious. As sporadic fighting continues, the cost of fuel has increased fourfold leading to prolonged power cuts.

“Life is a bit easier now, but not good”

For now, SOS Mothers and others agree that the village is the safest place, as long as basic provisions continue to be available. “Life is a bit easier now, but not good,” said one of the women. The children are consoled by the fact that the SOS Children’s Village is not being targeted by either party in the struggle. However, the deaths of nine local children last week – as a result of a local suicide bomb –was a stark reminder to them that innocent children are not immune to the effects of war. 

As fighting continues in and around Damascus, the temporary evacuation of around 100 residents from the SOS Children’s Village Qodsaya is a cause of worry to all involved. Last June all of the children and their mothers were moved from the village eight km away to SOS Children's Villages' offices in the capital, while several SOS youth girls moved to a rented apartment. They now fear that this temporary arrangement may become permanent. Across Damascus fighting intensified last month as the holy month of Ramadan came to a close. While the children are cared for in every way possible, the effects of war are clear.

For now, children in Syria cannot return to school or the village playground  @ SOS Archives
For now, children in Syria cannot return to school or the village playground  @ SOS Archives

School is out

This school holiday is like no other. As things stand, they - like other children - will not be able to return to school next week. Providing temporary schooling is difficult. It is too dangerous to travel. Therefore, teaching materials and  the paperwork necessary to register children in other schools is out of reach. The situation proved too much for one child who said, "I don’t care if it is dangerous or if there are fights, I want to go home even if I die, I don’t care."

Efforts are being made to provide additional support to over 270 individuals, who have been supported through the SOS Family Strengthening Programme. Established in 1996, in the Darayya suburb of Damascus the initiative provide meals for single mothers and their children. Vocational training and various supports are also provided. During the current crisis the team do what they can under very trying conditions. For now, the priority for everyone is to continue to provide women and children with the food and shelter they desperately need to survive current events in Syria.