13 January 2016

SOS Children’s Villages to address the needs of unaccompanied and malnourished children in Madaya, Syria

UPDATE: SOS Children's Villages entered Madaya, Syria on Janaury 14, 2016. Read Abeer Pamuk of SOS Syria's first-hand account here.

MADAYA, Syria—SOS Children’s Villages is making preparations to enter Madaya, Syria, tomorrow to address the needs of the severely malnourished and unaccompanied children.

“We have no clear picture of the number of children that are unaccompanied in Madaya; however, we know that the situation there is dire,” said Ahmed Hussein, leader of the emergency response program for SOS Children’s Villages in Syria. “A rapid assessment is essential for us to establish what we can do to provide the greatest impact for the children in this area.”

A blockade in place since October 2015 had left international aid agencies unable to enter Madaya until this week. The blockade has been temporarily lifted, which has allowed much-needed food supplies and other necessities on Monday to flow into the town of 40,000 people—many of whom are suffering from severe malnutrition.

If granted access to Madaya this Thursday, SOS will conduct a rapid assessment to determine the needs of children, particularly those children who are malnourished or unaccompanied. SOS will offer to relocate the unaccompanied children to one of its two interim care centers around Damascus. Each center provides temporary shelter, food and trauma counseling until SOS is able to reunite the children with their family members or help place them in other long term care.

Since aid agencies were allowed access to Madaya on Monday, the United Nations has reported that 28 residents have died of starvation since December. It is estimated that hundreds, if not thousands, of children and adults are in critical need of food and other essential items.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that up to 4.5 million people in Syria live in “hard-to-reach” areas, which includes 400,000 people in 15 besieged locations. In the past year, only 10 percent of all requests to access these areas with food aid and other essential items were approved and delivered.

In operation since January 2012, the SOS Emergency Relief Program in Syria runs the following programs for vulnerable children and their families:

  • Interim Care Centers (ICCs) for unaccompanied and separated children. At the ICCs, the children receive food, temporary shelter, medical care and trauma counseling.

  • Child-care Spaces that offer various activities for children, such as art therapy workshops, storytelling sessions, sports activities and music classes. Children also have access to psychosocial and trauma support.

  • Food and nutrition distribution that provide 10,000 food packages to families in need across the country.

About SOS Children’s Villages

SOS Children’s Villages believes that every child deserves a loving home. We build families for orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children in 134 countries and territories, including the United States. Founded in 1949, we provide children with the love and long-term support they need to shape their own futures - a stable family, quality medical care and the opportunity to learn. Through our family support and care programs, medical centers, schools and emergency relief efforts we impact millions of lives worldwide.

To learn more, visit www.sos-usa.org, or follow us on Twitter @SOSChildrenUSA.