September 17 2015

SOS Children’s Villages Germany increasing capacity for refugees

With decades of experience supporting vulnerable families and children without parental care, including many asylum seekers, SOS Children's Villages Germany is gearing up to provide homes and help for more refugees.

An estimated 800,000 refugees, among them thousands of unaccompanied children, are expected to arrive in Germany in the course of 2015, according to media reports. The German government has released figures stating that it received formal applications from 136,039 asylum seekers between January and February this year. The numbers are expected to increase significantly.

SOS Children’s Villages Germany is at the forefront of providing care and support to refugee children and their families. Assistance in various forms, from shelter and care to language courses and cultural mediation, is offered to hundreds of refugees across the country.

One refugee family from Syria, a mother and father with their four children, has become part of the bigger SOS Children’s Village family in Saar, Germany, having made the dangerous Mediterranean sea crossing last year to escape the war and restart in Germany.

The Tahan family fled the war in Syria. Today, they are making a new start in Germany with the help of SOS Children's Villages.

The Tahan family are learning German and SOS Children's Villages is helping to ease their integration into the larger community. The children are attending local schools, while their dad, a chef by profession, is planning to treat everyone at the children’s village to a Syrian dinner.

SOS Children’s Village Saar is proud of its history of taking in refugees. First Vietnamese and Eritreans, now Afghans, Syrians and Ethiopians.

In the German cities of Saarbrücken and Augsburg, SOS Children’s Villages is providing shelter and care for approximately 100 young, unaccompanied asylum seekers in supported, semi-independent youth group homes.

The organisation also runs projects in these areas, in cooperation with financial partners, to help refugees with basic necessities and services.

Last year SOS Children’s Villages Germany expanded its support and care services to accommodate a total of about 100 young unaccompanied refugees in Ammersee, Bremen, Württemberg and Detmold.

Additional trained professionals were hired to support these young people in getting settled, integrating and restarting their lives.

Locations of SOS Children's Villages programmes in Germany.

SOS Children’s Villages Germany has found room for an additional 50 to 60 refugee children in existing SOS families and youth group homes.

In response to increased need, the organisation has had to hire more skilled staff; special training in helping refugees and asylum seekers is provided for existing staff.

The refugee children and their families are supported in various ways; some families live in guest apartments at SOS villages. Here, as part of the community, they receive guidance and support in restarting and integrating with the local community.

Other forms of support are offered through SOS Children’s Villages social centres. These include language courses, donations in kind, tutoring, cultural mediation and child-friendly recreational activities.

All this help is made possible through donations, sponsorships and other support provided by SOS Children's Villages' committed givers, donors, and various local, national and international partners.

Apart from the physical help, SOS Children’s Villages Germany is also campaigning for the rights of refugee children, including the right not to be discriminated against.

Prof Dr Johannes Münder, chairperson of the board of SOS Children’s Villages Germany, said on World Refugee Day in June that every child, including every refugee child, needs to be given a fair chance. SOS Children’s Villages is hoping to provide young refugees with exactly that.

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Read child refugees' own stories.