20 March 2015

Syria’s ‘lost generation’ of children now suffering year 5 of war

An SOS co-worker visits a refugee camp in Syria. SOS Children's Villages is providing shelter, food, clothing and other aid for tens of thousands of war-affected Syrian children. Photographer: SOS Archive

As the brutal conflict in Syria enters its fifth year, over 12.2 million people there need life-saving humanitarian assistance. Almost half of them are children who now face a fifth year of being denied their rights to safety, education, health care and protection.

“Amid the horror and despair of a fifth year of conflict in Syria, it is children and young people who are suffering most. They are being killed and injured, tortured, displaced, and deprived of their right to safety, education and a future. Many have lost parental care. Large numbers have no care at all,” said SOS Children’s Villages International CEO, Richard Pichler.
 
He added: “UNICEF has assessed that more than five-and-a-half million children are currently in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria. There are almost two million refugee children outside the country. It is no exaggeration to speak of a ‘lost generation’. SOS Children’s Villages and other organisations are acting, but what will it take for this shameful suffering to end?”
 
SOS Children’s Villages’ first Emergency Response Programme in Syria provided support for more than 88,500 children – most of them Internally Displaced Persons – between 2013 and 2014.
 
We distributed 5,700 food baskets, 16,000 school bags with stationary, 50,000 blankets and 65,000 winter coats, and provided recreational activities to 3,000 children, and counselling to 300, in the SOS Children’s Villages Child Friendly Space in Damascus.
 
Our second Emergency Response Programme in Syria began in 2014 and will reach approximately 26,000 children by the end of 2015. The programme has three main components:
 
Temporary shelters for unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) in four locations. The shelters are based on the internationally recognised alternative child care model and offer education support, health, nutrition, vocational training, psychological support, protection, and other services to 1,000 children for a period of one year. One shelter has already opened; a second will open in early April.
 
Child Friendly Spaces. These spaces offer a safe environment for vulnerable children, especially internally displaced children and children from affected hosting communities. Three SOS Children’s Villages Child Friendly Spaces are now operating – two in Damascus, one in Aleppo. Up to 10,000 children will benefit.
 
Food basket distributions in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Lattakia and the Tartous coastal area for 5,000 households (25,000 individuals, including 15,000 children). Each food basket provides one household with basic foods for two months.
 
In December 2014, SOS Children’s Villages Syria opened a Temporary Care Centre in Damascus to care for 20 children of different ages, all of whom are separated from their parents and family – who, for the moment, are not traceable. SOS Syria is attempting to trace their parents or other family members who can care for them.