27 November 2013

In the Midst of Civil War, SOS Prepares Children and Families for Winter

11/27/2013: The civil war in Syria has raged on for two years, and shows no signs of relenting. As the violence intensifies children and families are put in even greater danger - forcing millions to flee their homes, and leaving three million children in need of aid within Syria itself.

Rasha Muhrez, our Director Programs in Syria said, “On any given day it’s estimated that 10,000 people made a run for the border, and these numbers are increasing. Rising inflation and tension has left children scared, because their parents feel powerless. People on every side of the conflict share the same fears. They all plead for peace, for the sake of their children.”

The SOS Children’s Villages emergency relief team has already helped 16,000 children return to school (which kids must attend in shifts, since more than 2,400 schools have been destroyed in the fighting), and is now providing much needed winter clothing and bedding to families. During Ramadan, our team supplied 60,000 meals to displaced families in Damascus and Aleppo – in addition to 1,500 cooked meals to families in the rebel-held town of Daraa near the Jordanian border.   

UNICEF estimates that more than a million children live as refugees in countries neighboring Syria, and that over three million children live in dire conditions within the country. Humanitarian needs grow more acute with each passing day. The civil war has killed more than 100,000 people, injured many more, and has created a tide of refugees and evacuees. The civilian population is becoming ever more vulnerable, and children represent approximately half of those in need.

SOS Working to Keep Families Warm

November 1st marked the beginning of the SOS Keep Me Warm Project, in which $1.8M worth of blankets and winter coats are being distributed to 100,000 Syrians. Families in Damascus, Aleppo, Daraa, and the coastal cities of Latakia and Tartus will receive blankets, coats, and children’s hats and gloves over the next 3 months. 

SOS is working to help families like Mahran’s, who was forced to evacuate his home in Darayya with his family - and who now struggles to feed his two children. The family has only been able to find shelter in the basement of an unfinished building where a number of internally displaced families from Darayya were living. Mahran secured a small room in the basement, and a few weeks later his wife Malak gave birth to their daughter, Maya.

Now eleven months old, Maya hasn’t received her vaccinations, her older brother Malek has contracted bronchitis and asthma from the dampness of their basement home, and Mahran is still looking for work after having lost his position as a carpenter. 

Malak recalls with sadness a past that at once feels so close, and yet so far away. Two years ago, she was so happy being together with her husband, family and neighbors, and she wasn’t afraid of anything. Now, she fears losing her children to illness, the coming winter, and the possibility of being unable to protect her children. “I just want to go back home with my family,” she says.

SOS is helping Mahran, Malak, and other families in the region survive the coming winter. Without programs like the Keep Me Warm project, they would have no way to keep their children safe through the harsh Syrian winter.

Click here to read more about the crisis in Syria.