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Children remain top priority


Lebanon has seen some 700,000 people leave their homes and seek shelter in 'safer' areas. In many cities, public buildings, such as schools, have become these refugees' new shelter.

And as in all the war stories, it is the children who are the most affected by the conflict. Yasmine, a four year old girl, didn't seem to mind being put up in a school sports hall with hundreds of strangers far from home, but couldn't understand why things had turned out as they had, "why has war started? We were so happy and I don't know why people hate each other so much…"

In response to the emerging needs of these many thousands of displaced people, SOS Children has started an emergency programme to meet the basic needs of the refugees. Although priority has to remain on caring for the children in our care and the extended SOS family, which include former SOS children, youths and their families, SOS Children is also providing support to refugee families with young children. Milk, baby food and nappies, as well as basic foodstuffs and medicine are being provided to the 200 families who have sought shelter in the surroundings of our SOS Children's Village in Sferai, near Sidon.

Working with the Lebanese government, emergency relief efforts are likely to be expanded over the coming days to support the ever increasing numbers of refugees that have fled to the north of the country.

At the SOS Children's Village in Ksarnaba, which has witnessed fierce fighting almost first hand, the atmosphere remains positive. "Don't worry, we are all safe! The children are fine and happy as ever and we are doing our best to make them feel secure. At night, it is a little bit hard; we barely find gaps to sleep. But, we are strong and we do believe that here in our SOS Children's Village in Ksarnaba we will be safe!" said one SOS Mother.

With many children away from the village for the summer holidays, the remaining 15 children and 4 SOS mothers currently share the one house to keep strengths and morale high.

The SOS Children's Village in Bhersaf, on the outskirts of Beirut, is also host to a number of relatives of the SOS Mothers. Ali, a three year old child, and his family had had to leave their home in the dark. "I was scared by the sound of the bomb. Now I think I know what it means to hate someone else. It is that very high sound…"

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Relevant Countries: Israel, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories.

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