UNICEF in Action
The first part of 2005 was dominated by the response to the tsunami and the resulting protection issues among tsunami-affected children. Institutionalization of children without a care giver due to the tsunami was prevented, and vulnerable children were provided with psychosocial care. UNICEF's response to the tsunami
Work also continued in core areas of protection:
Violence, abuse and exploitation: UNICEF supports the active functioning of District Child Protection Committees, community-level child protection groups that improve coordination between government, police, and NGOs in 10 of the country’s 25 districts. In addition the two longest functioning Committees in Jaffna and Galle also receive UNICEF support.
Juvenile justice: UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Justice in conducting a participatory consultation with Police, Probation and Child Care Services, Prisons, Courts, Lawyers and NGOs to identify and frame child friendly standards that can be implemented for the benefit of all children in contact with the law. The consultations aim to obtain support from these services to implement standards that will be outlined in an upcoming Child Friendly Procedures Manual.
Conflict: For children in war-affected areas, the primary vehicle for UNICEF’s work has been the Action Plan for Children Affected by War, an agreement between the government and the LTTE calling for the release of all child recruits and significant improvements in socioeconomic conditions in war-torn areas. Under the Action Plan UNICEF developed a monitoring and reporting system for child recruitment in 2002 (recently brought to the United Nations Security Council as an example for a global monitoring tool).
Identification and support of unaccompanied and separated children: Immediately following the tsunami, UNICEF worked with the Government of Sri Lanka and partners to identify and register unaccompanied (children not with parents and relatives) and separated children (not with parents but with relatives), to reunite them with parents, siblings, extended families or home communities. UNICEF has also advocated for community-based approaches to caring for orphaned children, and has provided strong support to the Sri Lankan Government in making appropriate fostering arrangements, and in providing support to foster families.
Providing psychosocial support to children: UNICEF worked quickly with the Government of Sri Lanka, NGOs and partners to set up child-friendly spaces in camps and villages, and distributed sports, games and art materials to enable children to resume normal play activities. UNICEF is now working with partners to implement activities that promote long-term psychosocial well-being, including support to the Ministry of Education to implement a national plan to mainstream psychosocial support through the education system. In conflict affected areas UNICEF has been supporting the establishment of children’s clubs and widows groups for the provision of psychosocial support and is working on establishing referral mechanisms and support networks.
Protection of vulnerable children: In the immediate aftermath of the tsunami, UNICEF worked with local police and other partners to raise awareness about the heightened potential for abuse against children and women. UNICEF continues to be on alert for any emerging threats and is working in collaboration with UNHCR, ILO and IOM to strengthen prevention and protection systems.