Turkey opens complex to care for orphans of Syrian civil war

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  May 18, 2017 at 8:41 AM
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May 18 (UPI) -- Turkey on Thursday opened a 55-house complex to shelter and educate nearly 1,000 children orphaned by Syria's civil war.

At the complex in the southeastern border town of Reyhanli, 550 staff members, including teachers, psychologists and security officials, will care for 990 Syrian children so far who have either lost parents in the war or who were born in refugee camps and left under the care of humanitarian groups.

The 1,000-square-foot complex is the result of a joint project by the Sheikh Thani bin Abdullah al-Thani Foundation for Humanitarian Services, or RAF, and the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation.

"Undoubtedly the children are affected most from the Syrian war that has been going on since 2011. One in every three Syrian children, which corresponds to 3.7 million children, was born after the war started," the organizations said in a statement. "Syrian orphans like orphans else where are threatened by substance abuse, forced into being child soldier, human traffickers, missionary organizations, prostitution and organ mafia, begging rings."

The RAF-IHH City for Human Welfare features three schools, a mosque, a health clinic, playgrounds, an olive orchard a rehabilitation center and patches for planting.

"The city is the biggest space dedicated for orphan victims of war in the world," the organizations said. "A place where children can turn from introvert reserved persons to confident individuals with high self-esteem, develop compassion and kindness while raising animals and trees, learn how to handle their emotions and have dreams."

The foundation for the project, approved by Turkey's Ministry of Family and Social Policy, began on July 2, 2015, which was declared as World Orphans Day on the 15th Day of Ramadan.

"The lives of these children, who were born in the middle of war or far from their homes are shaped up by violence, fear of loss and deportation," the IHH and RAF added. "Psychological support and rehabilitation comes first among the list of essentials needed by orphan children who are war victims in order to grow up as physically and mentally healthy individuals in safe environment."

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