In May 2021, SOS Children’s Villages was contacted by victims of past abuse from Suriname, some of whom live now in the Netherlands. They reported abuse in the former SOS Children’s Villages Suriname. Coming forward was a courageous step for which we have great respect and gratitude.
"We are very sorry that we failed to keep the children and young people safe in our programmes in the former SOS Children’s Villages in Suriname”, said Arian Buurman, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages in the Netherlands.
“I went to Suriname to speak with the victims to share the final report and better understand how they feel and how we can support them. The past safeguarding failures in our organization go against everything we stand for. We take all complaints very seriously. Our priority is to help victims/survivors as best as possible in their healing journey,” added Arian Buurman.
Following the reports received, SOS Children’s Villages commissioned an independent consulting firm from the Netherlands to research past incidents and assess the needs of the affected people for support. Since the research began, additional people have come forward, bringing the total number of people currently being offered support to 22. Three of the individuals currently live in the Netherlands, and 19 live in Suriname.
The reports came within the first week after we made a public announcement for past organizational failings in our former programmes, where we also encouraged anyone with knowledge of abuse or misconduct to come forward.
A delegation from SOS Children’s Villages, comprised of senior management and technical advisors travelled to Suriname in February 2023 to offer a formal apology to the people affected by the past abuse and discuss with them how individualized, integral support can be offered to each of them.
As SOS Children’s Villages Suriname was closed in 2006, there is no longer an SOS Children’s Villages association present in the country. SOS Children’s Villages International has contracted a local organization to work with the affected individuals to receive integral, individualized support. This includes psycho-social support and therapy, vocational and skills training, and direct financial support, housing assistance and other material support. The support plans are being developed until April 2024 and further required support will be assessed accordingly.
The safety and well-being of the children and young people in our care remain our highest priority. We apologize to anyone who may have been affected by abuse in our programmes or feels he/she was not taken seriously by us in the past when they had the courage to come forward with their concerns.
Support provided to the victims of past abuse is an integral part of our four-year Safeguarding Action Plan.
We urge anyone with knowledge or suspicion of safeguarding failures to come forward via our confidential whistle-blowing channel or firstname.lastname@example.org
This is an update of the statement first published on 17 February 2023.