Sri Lanka

A day of celebrating peace for Sri Lankan children caught in conflict

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF video
Girls at the celebration of the UN International Peace Day in Sri Lanka.

By Junko Mitani

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, 26 September 2006 – It was a day of hope for Sri Lanka’s children. On 21 September, thousands of children celebrated the UN International Day of Peace amid an escalating conflict that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people across the country.

According to a children’s poll taken last year, an overwhelming number of young people here believe that Sri Lanka needs peace. “Peace should take place not only in the mind, but also in reality,” said Dilani, 13. “We want permanent peace,” added Nushka, 15. “Children want peace!”

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF video
Dancing to celebrate peace against the backdrop of an escalating conflict that has displaced children and families across Sri Lanka.

On the International Day of Peace this year, children from many Sri Lankan communities started off by lighting traditional oil lamps, then participated in a variety of activities supported by the Ministry of Education and a group of non-governmental organizations and UN agencies, including UNICEF.

A day of celebration

At many schools, children flew kites carrying messages on ‘what peace means for me’. In Batticaloa on the country’s east coast, hundreds gathered to open a Children’s Parliament. In Vavuniya, a town in the north, schoolchildren marked the day by releasing doves and balloons. In southern Sri Lanka, 500 children marched into Galle town for a day of celebration dedicated to peace.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF video
Sri Lankan children fly kites carrying messages on ‘what peace means for me’.

“We are debating and talking about peace with everyone. It helps children just by discussing peace,” said the head of UNICEF’s Batticaloa Zone Office, Christina de Bruin. “Children have lots of ideas about peace, and how we can reach peace. One day a year to celebrate peace is not enough. It should be peace day every day.”

For Sri Lanka’s children, the International Day of Peace was a chance to celebrate together and forget about the conflict that has become part of their daily lives. “Peace is very important in the world today,” said Sachith, 15. “I wish peace will come soon.”


 

 

Video

26 September 2006:
UNICEF’s Junko Mitani reports on how children celebrated the International Day of Peace in Sri Lanka.
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