From 1975 until the early 1990s Lebanon suffered a bloody civil war in which regional powers - particularly Israel, Syria and the Palestine Liberation Organisation - used the country as a battlefield for their own conflicts. Israeli troops invaded in 1982 before pulling back to a self-declared "security zone" in 1985 from which they withdrew in May 2000.
The charity began working in the country in 1966 and three years later the first SOS Children's Village was established in Bhersaf, inland from the capital Beirut. The village has twelve family houses and is home to 108 children. Also nearby, the first youth homes were set up in the mid-1970s, to help teenagers from the village in their first steps to independence.
A second village was built in Sferai about 65km south of Beirut, near Sidon, in 1981, providing homes for 90 children in its ten family houses. As a result of the ongoing political conflict in the area and the closure of the main access roads, the SOS families and their neighbours lived for many years in virtual isolation.
The first SOS Social Centre in the country, ‘SOS-Entraide’ was opened in Mkallès near Beirut in 1986, helping disadvantaged women and families from the neighbourhood by providing work as well as social and economic support. Its main focus is to prevent the abandonment of children by strengthening at-risk families, particularly those headed by single mothers.