Since 2011 Syria has been engulfed in conflict. The violence continues, and between 300,000 and 425,000 people have lost their lives. An estimated 13.5 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. And approximately 11.4 million people are displaced; they were forced to leave their homes and have fled to other parts of the country or abroad.
Families are struggling to survive
Years of fighting have deprived children of normal childhood activities. In the care of SOS Children’s Villages, children can once again be children (photo: SOS archives).
Damascus, located in the south of the Syria, had a population of roughly 1.8 million before the war started.
Although Damascus has been one of the safer Syrian cities, there have been repeated reports of shootings, bombings, deaths and injuries in some neighbourhoods.
The tense security situation has affected the lives of all Syrians since the conflict started. Families in some areas of the city find it increasingly hard to find clean drinking water and food they can afford.
The Syrian health care system has practically collapsed. More than half of Syria's hospitals have been destroyed or badly damaged: medical help and medicines are in very short supply in some areas.
Vulnerable children need support and protection
Syria is one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a child. The lives of millions of children have changed forever; they are now shaped by violence and fear. For these children, activities that were previously seen as normal – going to school, playing with friends, spending time with family – are no longer possible. For many of them, family life is now ridden with anxiety and uncertainty.
Children have lost family members, their friends, their homes and have witnessed unimaginable violence. Many suffer from trauma – they are scared, anxious, have problems sleeping, or have become withdrawn. They are in need of long-term psychological support – the earlier they receive this treatment, the better.
Around 25 per cent of schools have been destroyed. Although temporary schools and classes have been organised throughout the country, around two million children are not getting an education. A further 1.3 million children are at risk of dropping out due to violence – schools have been attacked in some areas – displacement or poverty. Children from poor families have to work in order to help support their family.
What we do in Damascus
Children in our care grow up in stable family homes alongside their brothers and sisters (photo: SOS archives).
SOS Children’s Villages has been working in Damascus since 1981 when SOS Children’s Village Qodsaya – in a suburb of the capital - started supporting vulnerable children and families.
In 2016, we saw the urgent need to provide care for more children who had lost parental care and SOS Children’s Village Damascus was opened.
Care in SOS families: Up to 150 children and young people live in SOS Children’s Village Damascus. Brothers and sisters grow up together in an SOS family. Some of the children have been in our care in the SOS Children’s Villages Interim Care Centres for unaccompanied and separated refugee children. We have worked hard to try to find their families so that the children can return to live with them. However, in those cases where this has not been possible, the children have found a home in SOS Children’s Village Damascus.
Children in our care are given special psychological support to help them deal with the traumatic experiences that they have lived through in their short lives.
Support for young people: SOS Children’s Villages supports young people in Damascus while they continue their studies, do further training or look for a job.
Emergency assistance: In Damascus, we support over 340 families so that they have access to food, clean drinking water, electricity and health care. We take steps to ensure that children can continue their education.
Due to the ongoing conflict, SOS Children's Villages is carefully monitoring the situation in order to provide vital humanitarian assistance and to ensure the safety of children and families in our care. The village will also provide a safe haven in case our other homes and centres have to be evacuated should the security situation around them deteriorate.
Please bear in mind that the postal service in Syria is disrupted and letters and parcels may not be delivered. Please check your national postal service for current service information for Syria.