15 September 2015

Unaccompanied refugee children and youth given SOS homes in Austria

A boy from Syria waits at a refugee site in Macedonia. Photographer: Katerina Ilievska

More than 30 refugee children and young people who came into Austria without their parents or caregivers have already found new homes through SOS Children’s Villages in Austria. Plans are underway to provide homes for at least 70 more before the end of the year.

SOS Children’s Villages Austria is responding to the plights of hundreds of refugee children and minors who were either forced to flee from their countries of origin without their parents or were separated from their parents along the way.

“For SOS Children’s Villages it is about more than providing a roof over the head and food on the table. It’s about giving these children a piece of their childhood back. About a meaningful daily structure, integration and education,” said Clemens Klingan, in charge of SOS Children’s Villages Austria North.


SOS Children's Villages Austria has programmes in 11 locations for children and young people without parental care, including many asylum-seeking refugee children.
SOS Children’s Villages has offered to immediately take in unaccompanied and separated children from Austria’s main refugee camp, Traiskirchen, but the process is slowed by bureaucratic red tape.

Four boys from Afghanistan, aged 12 and 13, count among the lucky ones who found their way from Traiskirchen to SOS Children’s Village Altmünster in August.

In Vienna, two Iranian siblings, aged 7 and 11, are now part of an SOS family, and in Stübing, three boys between the ages of 9 and 12, originally from Syria and Afghanistan, are adapting to life in Austria, with the loving care of their SOS mother and the support of a psychologist.

Five Syrian children are likewise being cared for at the first SOS Children’s Village, located in Imst, in the Austrian state of Tyrol.

Christian Moser, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Austria, condemned a decision by the state of Lower Austria to place 17-year-old refugees in adult living quarters.

According to Mr Moser about three-quarters of Austrian young people are still living with their parents at the age of 21 because they are not yet able to live independently.

He said it was incomprehensible that the authorities thought 17-year-olds who had fled from war and terror, to a foreign country, could cope without age-appropriate support.

SOS Children’s Villages in Austria is working to create more SOS youth group homes, with age-appropriate supervision and support, as an aid to young refugees.

One of these SOS youth group homes is in the town of Ebreichsdorf in Lower Austria, where 12 refugee minors will come to live starting in October.

Similar SOS youth group homes for young Austrians without parental care and young, unaccompanied asylum seekers, are located in Salzburg and Hinterbrühl.

In the town of Hall, near Innsbruck, young refugees have found shelter, care and guidance for many years at the SOS Children's Villages youth group home.

John, who is now grown and married and well-integrated into Austrian society, said he was very happy living there after arriving from Nigeria at the age of 15.
  
SOS Children’s Villages supports and promotes the equal treatment of all children and young people. “A child is a child, regardless of where he or she was born,” Mr Moser added.

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Please consider making a one-time or regular donation today to help support a child or young person in need of a loving home, health care, education and protection.