Statement regarding the group of evacuated children from SOS Children’s Village Rafah under the care of SOS Children’s Villages Palestine and their current situation

After the evacuation of a group of 68 children from SOS Children’s Village Rafah in Gaza, along with 11 caregivers and SOS Children’s Village staff and their families, they were officially brought to SOS Children’s Village in Bethlehem and are under the organization’s permanent care.

The children, aged between two and fourteen years, remain in the direct care of SOS Children’s Villages in Bethlehem. Hoping for their safe return to the village in Rafah when conditions permit.

As the organization previously explained, we worked on the transfer process for a long time until we obtained approval after tremendous international pressure for five continuous months, and through the relevant ministries, which are the legal guardian of the children, and diplomatic channels, where the children and families were brought to Bethlehem in the West Bank, and they arrived safe and sound on March 11.

Hence, we call on all parties to support and protect children affected by the war as soon as possible, which includes refuting rumors that affect our organization’s humanitarian work, negatively affect efforts with partners and supporters of the organization’s work, and affect Palestinian civil peace. We confirm our determination to make every effort to protect the children and their national Palestinian identity and to provide them with the best alternative care in Bethlehem until they return safely to Rafah.

Accordingly, regarding Palestinian passports for children and families we must clarify, as they are the official documents that prove that children have a Palestinian identity that cannot be compromised, and which allowed them to move between the two parts of the country and reach a safe place temporarily until the war ends.

It is worth noting that many Arab and foreign countries offered to host children, but the position of the Palestinian Ministry of Social Development, as a legal guardian to the children, and the position of the organization’s management was to definitely refuse to transfer children to places other than the West Bank, where the second SOS Children’s Village Bethlehem is located, and the organization’s administrative National Office, which is based to support the two villages in Gaza and the West Bank.

Currently, with the solidarity of our Palestinian society, its various groups and institutions, all children are in good condition and under these circumstances they will continue to receive care and psychological support from specialized caregivers in SOS Children’s Villages Palestine. They have also been integrated into the health and educational system in the West Bank and are now enrolled at Palestinian public schools in Bethlehem. They are preparing, like other children, to take the end-of-semester exams.

The core of SOS Children’s Villages’ work is always the safety of children who have lost family care or are at risk of losing it. It has been working in Palestine since 1968, based in its work on the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. It is an international organization that operates in many Arab and foreign countries , among 136 countries around the world.

Statement / 23.5.2024