PRESS RELEASE -  20 November 2023

World Children’s Day: A call to end widespread child suffering

President Dereje Wordofa of SOS Children’s Villages International says the war in Gaza exposes the failings of world governments to protect children and ensure their rights.

On World Children’s Day 2023, a day meant to commemorate the rights of children worldwide, SOS Children’s Villages calls for an end to the war in Gaza where children’s rights are being violated daily.

Every day of the war sees more children dying and being injured, not to mention the long-lasting trauma children suffer.

Most vulnerable are the children who are alone: those who have lost parental care. They are likely to not have the support of an adult to provide protection and help them to access the necessities for basic survival and emotional support.

“The destruction in Gaza exposes the failings of world governments in safeguarding children and ensuring their rights,” says Dr. Dereje Wordofa, President of SOS Children’s Villages International. “Children have a fundamental right to be protected from violence, abduction, and the trauma of war.”

World Children’s Day, on 20 November, commemorates the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) which states “that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.”

President Wordofa says: “As we mark World Children's Day, the ongoing war in Gaza and other prolonged conflicts globally highlight a sad reality - there's little to celebrate in light of widespread child suffering. This serves as a sobering reminder to the international community that we are falling short in fulfilling our pledge to uphold the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

SOS Children’s Villages joins others in appealing to the humanity of all parties in Israel and the Gaza Strip, as well as the international community, to urgently work towards and agree on an immediate and durable ceasefire that allows humanitarian aid to reach those in desperate need of it.

  • We call for the immediate end of grave violations being committed against children.
  • We denounce the killing and maiming of children, the abduction of children, attacks on schools and hospitals.
  • We call on all parties to ensure that civilians are not targeted and are protected from harm, and that they receive immediate access to humanitarian assistance – food, water, medicine, and shelter.
  • We demand, with urgency, all kidnapped hostages should be safely released to their families.

SOS Children’s Villages stands for the rights of children and young people, especially those who have lost parental care or risk losing it. SOS Children's Villages supports children, young people and families both in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory – and all neighbouring countries.

Since the October 7 attack on Israel, eight children and young people, and five adults who were currently or previously supported by SOS Children’s Villages in Palestine were killed. A young woman who grew up in our children’s village in Israel was also killed, as was the brother of two siblings in our care. At present, especially at risk are the 76 children and 16 caregivers in Rafah, as well as family strengthening participants, who – like all of the residents of the Gaza Strip – face bombardment and dwindling basic supplies.

“At SOS Children’s Villages, we mourn the loss of people who were part of our programmes and of which the majority were children,” says President Wordofa. “We express our deepest condolences to all. We share their sadness and wish them courage and healing. Civilians, and especially children, are not a target.”

In both Gaza and Israel, SOS Children’s Villages is preparing multipurpose cash vouchers to assist families in our programme so they will be able to buy goods. In the Gaza Strip, the organization is scaling up psychological support not only to caregivers at the Children’s Village, but also to community members. In Israel, the organization helps children's families who have lost income due to the war, especially those from the Bedouin community, and offers psychological support to children, staff and families.


About SOS Children’s Villages 

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

Locally led, we work in more than 130 countries and territories 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.

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