SOS Emergency Appeals

SOS Children has been helping vulnerable children and families for over 60 years. Today, we work in 125 countries around the world, providing long-term care to ensure children grow up healthy and happy.

With local staff and many years of experience, we are well-placed to deliver swift and effective relief when disaster strikes.

We are currently carrying out emergency relief work in crisis situations around the world. You can be part of the vital work we are doing for those who need it the most.

How you can help today...

A little girl in a refugee centre in Serbia looks at the camera (square crop)

Refugee crisis

More than a million people fleeing war, persecution and poverty have arrived on Europe's shores this year. We are helping families and children far from home through our child-friendly spaces and dedicated medical and counselling teams. We are also distributing food, clothing and hygiene packs. 

Several unaccompanied children are being looked after at Children's Villages in the region and over 30 children have found a new home with us in Austria. 

Find out how you can help...

How have we helped in past emergencies?

With expertise and experience in many countries around the world, SOS Children are always ready to step in when crisis occurs. Here are just two examples of the life-changing emergency work we are delivering worldwide:

Rebuilding houses post tsunami Sri Lanka2004 Asian tsunami

On Boxing Day 2004, a powerful tsunami tore through coastal regions in East Asia, killing 225,000 and devastating countless lives. Across the region, we took into our care 600 children left alone by the tragedy, providing a home, a family, and the very best education and healthcare. We also rebuilt the homes of over 11,000 people affected by the tragedy.

2012 South Sudan crisis

In April 2012, the Sudanese government took 2,000 children from streets and orphanages and sent them across the border to South Sudan. Many were unaccompanied, with no one in the world to care for them in a terrifying and alien environment. SOS Children stepped in to help these children. We provided permanent care for 400 of them, as well as education, guidance and support to many more.

Look back at the fantastic work we have done to help millions of people during times of crisis...

How does SOS Children work?

Kashmir SOS emergency relief tents

SOS Children provides long-term care for families in 125 countries around the world.

For children who have lost their parents, we provide a new home in a Children's Village. Here, vulnerable children enter the care of a loving family, attend the very best schools and receive long-term medical care care throughout their childhood.

We also work in the community, supporting vulnerable families on the verge of breakdown. Through tailored guidance and individual support, we enable parents to provide their children with a loving and supportive upbringing.

Where there are no schools, we build, staff and equip them, creating quality learning environments for children of all ages. Where hospitals are lacking, we provide medical care that keeps children healthy from the outset.

We do all we can to prevent child abandonment due to financial hardship.

Why does SOS Children get involved in Emergency Relief?

Other charities are specialised in Emergency Relief and are specialist in flying emergency equipment around the world, finding bodies under rubble and distributing large quantities of food or blankets very fast.

SOS Children is specialised in orphans not disasters. However often when disaster strikes SOS is present on the ground already.This was the case for example for the Asian Tsunami emergency, and for the Kashmir Earthquakes. It is also true in the Gaza strip, for many famines and many refugee crises. SOS Children is already in place so often because the same places which have problems with orphaned children are places very vulnerable to natural disaster: where infrastructure has little reserve and people live close to the edge.

Where we are present we always help, using all of our facilities and staff in place. This gives a huge advantage both in speed (we have often been helping with our own local trucks for weeks while certain others struggle in a local port to try to get tax exemption on their imported 4x4s...) and in local knowledge since we have 98% local staff in all our different locations. When ensuring child safety and dealing with local political challenges a starting point of already being there is a huge help (and it also helps that locals we work with know we won't leave on the next plane out after the TV cameras have gone). Stories often circulate after disasters of child traffickers and others out to exploit the confusion: being there and knowing who is who proves invaluable for us.

Trust is important too. When the Kashmir government made us temporary guardian of all unaccompanied children after the Earthquake, they did so in the knowledge that we had been in the area for decades and even had had two set of commemorative stamps by the post office (one to mark 25 years and one to mark 30 years in Pakistan).

Aside from local knowledge, what else does SOS Children offer in emergencies?

Kashmir Emergency Packs

Although we do not typically get involved in major logistical operations or major rebuilding operations, we do have considerable skills and experience which are valuable. Our work in such emergencies is incredibly important, with high impact, especially for children affected.

Everywhere we work we have local government approval as custodians of children. We have checked local staff who can take on unaccompanied children.

We have a lot of experience dealing with child trauma and bereavement, too. We tend to end up running support centres where children can get over the stress of a natural disaster or conflict and ensure that they fare as well as possible.

We often run family tracing programmes, bringing families back together when children have been separated from their parents by abduction or natural disaster.

Giving families what they really need

Our local roots mean we often are very good at spotting what other people miss in emergency provisions: post tsunami our team on the ground went around the refugee camps and spotted that on average each family had more than a year of dried foodstuffs but didn't have any fresh fruit or veg, so we were only providing fresh food whilst piles of dried food from others grew higher and higher, in the mountains of Kashmir we were the ones with the tents best suited to the high altitude freezing weather and especially things related to children such as nappies when conflict isolates families with no washing facilities for extended periods.

Emergency support with SOS Children is about more than just temporary relief. It is about long-term care to help children and families in crisis get back on track for good. Learn more about our emergency relief work, and watch videos of us in action, by visiting our main site.



Did you know? Our charity helps children in Africa from over 40 countries to live a better life.