Orphaned children successfully evacuated from SOS Children

Children without parental care evacuated from Rafah, Gaza

SOS Children’s Villages works in both Palestine and Israel to support vulnerable children and families. Amid the current conflict, teams from SOS Children’s Villages in Gaza, SOS Children’s Villages in the West Bank and SOS Children’s Villages in Israel are on the ground, collaborating in unity to deploy humanitarian aid and safeguard vulnerable children. As violence recently intensified in the city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, we worked to identify a safer location for the children and families in our care at our children’s village in Rafah. Our top priority—as always—is to protect children, regardless of location or situation.

Update: March 12, 2024: Statement from SOS Children’s Villages International

A total of 68 children from the SOS Children's Village Rafah in Gaza as well as 11 employees of the SOS Children's Villages and their families have been evacuated. We have worked through diplomatic channels with all relevant authorities to bring the children and adults to Bethlehem in the West Bank, where they arrived safely on 11 March. The children aged between two and 14 years, are in the care of SOS Children's Villages, as they had already lost parental care before the war. They are doing well under the circumstances and continue to receive care and psychological support from their trusted carers.

The children were accompanied by their carers on the way to Bethlehem. We received consent from the legal guardians of all children who were evacuated.

“The successful evacuation gives a glimmer of hope. At the same time, our concern remains with all the children who are still in danger in Gaza.”

SOS Children's Villages' primary concern is always the well-being of children without or at risk of losing parental care, regardless of politics. As such, we are guided by international humanitarian law, and we uphold the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence.

SOS Children's Villages has been helping children who have lost or are at risk of losing parental care in both Israel and Palestine for decades and supporting families to prevent them from falling apart.

Even though the children are now relatively safe, we are still very concerned about all the other children and people who are still in grave danger in the Gaza Strip. SOS Children's Villages continues to provide humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip. The SOS Children's Village in Rafah remains an important humanitarian location that must be protected, providing life-saving measures to children and families in need. Some children at SOS Children’s Villages were not evacuated as consent was not granted by their relatives. SOS Children’s Village in Rafah also hosts and continues admitting children who have lost parental care in the ongoing war. When possible, and in the best interest of the child, we aim at placing these children with relatives. The SOS Children’s Village also hosts more than 100 internally displaced people, many of them children.

We call on all actors with the utmost urgency to treat and protect children affected by the conflict in accordance with international law. Every child has a right to a safe life. We will continue our work in Gaza and continue to support children and families in this life-threatening situation as best we can.

About SOS Children’s Villages

SOS Children's Villages, founded in 1949, is the world's largest non-governmental organization focused on supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it.

Child neglect, abuse and abandonment is everywhere. Families are at risk of separation. Locally led, we work in more than 130 countries and territories to strengthen families who are under pressure so they can stay together. When this is not in a child or young person's best interests, we provide quality care according to their unique needs.

Together with partners, donors, communities, children, young people and families, we enable children to grow up with the bonds they need to develop and become their strongest selves. We speak up for each child's rights and advocate for change so all children can grow up in a supportive environment.

About SOS Children’s Villages in Palestine

SOS Children’s Villages in Palestine, established in 1968, provides alternative care to more than 190 children and young people without parental care in two villages: in Rafah and Betlehem. The organization also runs family strengthening and other preventive programmes that support more than 400 families in the West Bank and Gaza. Since the start of the war in Gaza, SOS Children’s Villages in Palestine has provided direct humanitarian support to the most affected families and separated children.

Support children in Rafah