General Assembly to begin in Innsbruck

President Kaul praises organisation’s support for refugee children and families

INNSBRUCK, 16 June 2016 - More than 400 people from 134 countries and territories will attend the General Assembly of SOS Children’s Villages International 23-25 June at the Congress Innsbruck, where delegates are expected to approve a sweeping strategy to guide the organisation through 2030.

Delegates to the General Assembly will be voting on a strategy that underscores the organisation’s core commitment to the care and protection of children. It also calls for improving youth employability and strengthening the participation of young people in the decisions that affect their lives. 

“This General Assembly will reinforce the fundamental care and support we have been providing to children and families since our founding here in Innsbruck in 1949”, said Siddhartha Kaul, President of SOS Children’s Villages International. “Just as important, it will help provide the guidance to meet new humanitarian challenges and address the critical needs of young people.
“We have an unequivocal responsibility to provide care for children, defend their rights, and help strengthen families”, President Kaul said. “But we also must ensure that young people have a strong say in their future and have opportunities for both education and work.”
The General Assembly is held every four years. Since the last assembly, SOS Children’s Villages has significantly expanded its care for children and families affected by natural disaster, conflict, and humanitarian situations like the European refugee crisis.

The assistance provided to refugees includes safe spaces for children and families to rest and recover; trauma counselling and interim care for unaccompanied children; medical care; and communications support along the so-called Balkan route so that family members can find each other and stay in touch. The organisation also helps vulnerable children and families within Syria and Syrians who have sought shelter in Lebanon and Armenia.

“It is fitting that World Refugee Day, on 20 June, takes place just before our General Assembly”, President Kaul said. “The willingness of our employees and volunteers to help is infectious, and SOS Children’s Villages is at the forefront of communications services – what we call ICT Corners - which make it possible for people to connect to people at home, get news in these and most importantly, to stay in touch with their friends and families.”

In the past year, SOS Children’s Villages has provided relief and protection through 24 humanitarian operations in 22 countries, and delivered emergency relief and support, including care for unaccompanied and separated children, in even more countries. 

This spring, SOS Children’s Villages launched emergency programmes to assist with the drought in Ethiopia and the earthquake recovery in Ecuador. It continues to support recovery efforts in the West African Ebola crisis, the Nepal earthquake, as well as conflict-affected areas of the Central African Republic, Niger and Ukraine.
In addition to the business of approving the governance matters and outlining the organisation’s vision, the General Assembly includes a number of side events to give the more than 400 delegates from 134 countries a taste of Tyrolean cuisine, culture and history.