|A tsunami survivor holds a picture of missing relatives|
New York, 7 January 2005 – UNICEF has set up the first centres to protect children from exploitation and criminal trafficking in the Indonesian province of Aceh.
Estimates suggest that there may be thousands of children in the region who have lost parents or been separated from their families as a result of last month’s tsunami and they are particularly vulnerable to abuse.
“We have to move fast,” said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. “Those who would prey upon children in this chaotic environment are already at work.”
The Indonesian government has placed a temporary moratorium on children under the age of 16 leaving Aceh without a parent.
Child registration has also begun in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
Five camps have been set up in Aceh and fifteen more are planned where children will be identified and registered with the Indonesian Department of Social Services.
“These centres will provide assistance for children in a holistic way,” said UNICEF Child Protection Officer, Amanda Melville. “We provide services like registration and services for parents looking for their children.”
One of the first centres established is at a camp located on the grounds of the Indonesian national television station in Aceh. The children who live here are fortunate in that almost all have a relative to take care of them. The notice boards are full of missing and more searchers arrive every day.
“There’s a lot of people looking for entire families. Yesterday we registered 150 families looking for their children,’ Melville said.
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