ANKARA – Turkey has opened a 55-house complex to shelter and educate nearly 1,000 children orphaned by Syria’s civil war.
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The ‘Orphans City’, which boasts a ‘Children’s Living Center’ that can house up to 990 orphaned Syrian children, was constructed in an area of more than 68,000 sqm in the southern Hatay city of Reyhanlı, near the Syrian border.
In a cosy, home environment, the children will live in 55 villas and have access to four schools, a mosque, a playground and a sports arena, the BBC reported on Thursday.
Its website says it aims to help rehabilitate the “war-related psychological problems and traumas” of Syrian orphans, particularly those living on the streets.
The centre was built in less than two years as a co-operative project between Turkey’s government and two aid groups – IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation and Qatar’s Sheikh Thani bin Abdullah Foundation for Humanitarian Services (RAF).
The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) estimates that six million children have been affected by the six-year conflict in Syria. More than 2.3 million have fled the country and are registered as refugees.
Turkey currently hosts more than 800,000 school-aged Syrian children, of whom only about 60% were enrolled in schools at the start of the academic year.
Eighteen children will live in each two-storey villa along with a “caretaker” and will study at the two primary and two secondary schools built inside the complex.
Another 5,000 children not living in Orphans City will reportedly benefit from services and facilities at the complex.
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 Ramazan.
“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.”