DAMASCUS, Syria, September 28, 2016 – Intensified fighting forced SOS Children’s Villages to evacuate 156 children and 46 staff members from its Damascus Village to a safe location. All children and staff are safe and physically unharmed.
One SOS Mother among those evacuated reported an upsurge in fighting near the village. "It has been frightening”, she said. “I have done all I can to keep the children distracted from the sounds of bombs."
Following the evacuation, Alia Al-Dalli, International Director of Middle East and North Africa Region, said in a statement “We are doing all that we can to ensure the safety of the children and our colleagues. We urge all parties of the conflict to end this violence.”
Organization officials later said that at least two mortar shells fell on the village property, and that it is now being occupied by Syrian government forces.
“SOS Children’s Villages International expresses its concern about the occupation of our village in Damascus by military personnel and an earlier mortar attack on the premises. Our villages are recognized globally as safe havens for children and we dedicate ourselves to providing caring, loving and secure family environments," said Carsten Völz, Chief Operating Officer of SOS Children’s Villages International.
Völz added, “We have worked for more than 30 years to provide care and protection for vulnerable children in Syria and will continue to do so. SOS Children’s Villages calls on all parties of the Syrian conflict to respect all the rights of children.”
To speak to a representative of SOS Children's Villages, contact Stephanie Rendon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since the 1980s, SOS Children’s Villages has provided care to orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children in Syria. It is one of the few organizations that has been providing children and their families with food, shelter, medical and psychological care. Through its emergency relief program, SOS Children’s Villages has directly impacted the lives of nearly 300,000 Syrian children and their family members.