STATEMENT - 17 October 2023

Call to end the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza

SOS Children's Villages is appalled as a preventable, humanitarian catastrophe unfolds in Gaza, while the world watches.

SOS Children’s Villages mourns the killing of several children, young people and families from our programmes in Israel and Palestine whose lives were cut short. As the death toll climbs, more and more children are tragically losing their parents and loved ones, if not their own lives. In a matter of days, thousands of children have been killed and injured in Gaza and Israel, and the numbers grow by the day.

As the bombardment continues and citizens of Gaza are denied access to water, food, shelter and medicines, the worst is still to come unless action to deescalate the conflict is taken immediately.

The mounting death toll and deepening humanitarian crisis demand that all parties take immediate steps to protect the civilian population and end this war. We are shocked by the suffering that children and families have experienced in Israel and are now experiencing in Gaza. There is no justification for killing, assault and violence against civilians. 

Children stand to suffer the most in this conflict: on the run, nowhere safe to go, without food, water, and shelter. The physical and mental trauma will be even greater for those children who find themselves alone, separated from their families or who have lost parental care. Even before this escalation, 80% of the children in Gaza suffered from emotional distress.

SOS Children's Villages calls for an immediate de-escalation of the conflict and cease-fire. All parties must prioritize the protection of children, young people, and their families, upholding their human rights by:

  • Establishing a humanitarian corridor to allow for safe passage of aid and assistance to civilians in Gaza. Food, clean water, and shelter are in dwindling supply as hundreds of thousands of people heed warnings to flee their homes in advance of an expected Israeli ground invasion.
  • Creating safe zones in Gaza with restored basic services where people can access shelter, food, water, medical supplies and care.
  • Allowing safe passage to Egypt, with the right of return guaranteed when it is safe to do so.
  • Freeing all the hostages. Nothing can justify holding civilians as hostages – some of them young children and the elderly. No one – especially children - should be used as pawns in war. 
  • Ensuring accountability for violations of International Humanitarian Law to prepare the way for a just and lasting peace.
  • Stopping grave violations against children in conflict including: the killing and maiming of children; attacks against schools and hospitals; abduction of children and denial of humanitarian access.

We appeal to the humanity of all parties to prevent further loss of life and destruction. Already, fighting has spread to the West Bank, where Palestinian children are among those killed by the military and settlers.

SOS Children's Villages supports children, young people and families on both sides of this conflict, with children's villages in Israel and Palestine – and all neighbouring countries. Like in other wars and conflicts, we stand for the rights of children and young people. We follow the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, independence, and neutrality. 

Before the situation worsens, we implore all parties to prioritize peace, compassion, and humanity. Only through collective efforts can we hope to build a future free from violence and suffering for the people of Israel and Palestine.


SOS Children's Villages, founded in 1949, is the world's largest non-governmental organization focused on supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it.

Child neglect, abuse and abandonment is everywhere. Families are at risk of separation. Locally led, we work in more than 130 countries and territories, including both Israel and Palestine, to strengthen families who are under pressure so they can stay together. When this is not in a child or young person's best interests, we provide quality care according to their unique needs.

Together with partners, donors, communities, children, young people and families, we enable children to grow up with the bonds they need to develop and become their strongest selves. We speak up for each child's rights and advocate for change so all children can grow up in a supportive environment.

Our work is guided by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children.

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