Children in Syria
Over half of those in need of help are children. Of the 110,000 people we have helped in Syria since we launched our emergency relief programme in 2012, the overwhelming majority are mothers and their infant children.
The majority of them have been forced from their homes by the violence. Many are living in temporary shelters with hundreds of other families, separated from their homes and possessions and often lacking even the most basic essentials.
Without the stability of a home, parents cannot take proper care of their children. Education, health and nutrition, sanitation and even safe drinking water are all in short supply. Before the war, things were improving slowly for Syrian children, but change was highly dependent on the state of the economy. Slow growth has been halted and reversed by the conflict and once again the outlook is precarious for young people.
An estimated 6 million children have been affected by the war. They are trying to survive under life-threatening conditions. Family homes have been destroyed; a growing number are living on the streets and have to find a way of getting food and clean water.
2.7 million children are traumatised: they have witnessed violence and lost relatives and friends. Over two million children cannot go to school. Other activities that children took for granted, such as playing outside, are no longer possible.
Our Children's Villages in Syria
We began working in Syria in 1981 when the first SOS Children's Village was built in Qodsaya, near the capital of Damascus. On the side of a hill on the road towards Lebanon, the Village cares for children in a number of family houses.
In 1996, an SOS Social Centre was established in Darayya, a suburb of Damascus with a community outreach programme providing meals for single mothers and their children and vocational training for women and young people to help them find employment.
Since 2014 we have been running special temporary child care centres in Damascus, caring for an increasing number of unaccompanied children who have lost their parents or become separated from them in the chaos.
A second Village and a nursery opened in 1998 in Khan El Assal, near Aleppo, Syria's second largest city. Due to increased violence and constant fear, the children living in our Aleppo Village were moved to our Village in Damascus in September 2012. We keep hope that once peace is restored in Syria, the Children's Village in Aleppo will once again be filled with the sounds of happy children
Emergency Relief Work
Along with other charities and UN agencies, SOS Children’s Villages is engaged in intensive emergency relief to help both children and adults who have been forced from their homes by the war.
Since August 2012 we have been working in both rural and urban areas around Damascus, Latakia, Homs, Daraa and Tartous.
Providing displaced families with somewhere to sleep and supplying them with essentials such as clothes, medicine and bedding.
Running two temporary child care centres in Damascus where 205 children find a safe, warm home and are cared for by SOS mothers.
Offering three child-friendly spaces in Damascus and Aleppo. These are safe places where children can go to escape the horrors of war.
Providing food baskets to desperate families. We have distributed 60,000 meals to families and are providing essential baby-care packages to mothers which include nutrient-rich milk and nappies.
Working to ensure children remain in education throughout the disruption, paying school fees and supplying educational equipment. In 2013, we helped 16,000 children go back to school.
Our three decades of experience in Syria enable us to make the best use of our relationships with UN agencies, local NGOs and others to help the worst-affected get through this difficult time.
Over the coming months, we hope to reach out to 15,000 of the most vulnerable people in Syria.