Statement – March 4 2020

Children should always be treated as children

Amidst increasing tensions at the Turkish-Greek border, SOS Children’s Villages International calls for the immediate protection of children and their families.

“We strongly condemn all forms of violence and urge decision makers and authorities to ensure that children fleeing their homes are protected from violence and can access safety and adequate care. Governments cannot turn their backs on children. Governments need to share the responsibility of guaranteeing care and protection of children seeking safety,” said Steffen Braasch, Chief Executive Officer (interim) and Chief Financial Officer of SOS Children’s Villages International.   

Children should always be treated as children, first and foremost. Their right to care and protection needs to be safeguarded under all circumstances. 

“Together with our institutional and civil society partners, SOS Children’s Villages stands ready to be part of a strong united response by providing care and psychosocial and educational support to children seeking to rebuild their lives,” Mr Braasch said.    

Camps are never the right place for a child. States should provide quality community-based care. This needs to include access to key services such as health care, education and psychosocial support.  

Children should not be separated from their families unless it is in their best interest and should never be detained. Unaccompanied and separated children should be reunited with their families where it is in their best interest and receive quality alternative care meeting their individual needs.  

SOS Children’s Villages Greece supports about 200 children every day at the Kara Tepe Refugee Camp on the island of Lesbos. Recent tensions on the island forced SOS Children’s Villages Greece, like many NGOs, to temporarily suspend their activities for one week. However, as of Wednesday, 4 March, SOS Children’s Villages Greece employees were able to return to Kara Tepe and continue to run the SOS educational and psychosocial support programmes.  

Besides the programme for children and families in Kara Tepe, SOS Children’s Villages Greece runs day centres in Athens, Crete and Thessaloniki. These centres support some 400 refugees and migrants each month, regardless of their origin. SOS programmes also provide quality care in a family environment to children without parental care, including migrant and refugee unaccompanied children. 

For more information, see our 'Let Children Be Children' Report