Internally Displaced Children in Sri Lanka: Trincomalee
By Katey Grusovin
Minha (7 years old) sits in her aunt's tent in Al Tharique School in Kantale which has become an IDP camp for people displaced by the continuing hostilities in Sri Lanka's volatile North East.
Like most people fleeing from the Muttur area, she too had to leave with her family and only the clothes she was wearing at the time. She wasn't even able to collect her slippers and had travel to Kantale in her bare feet. Minha used to attend Grade 4 in Muttur. Remembering her school and friends she said, "My school will start in one week. I hope we can go back home soon, so I don't miss my classes." School was due to resume on August 14 but has been delayed for a week by the education authorities given the uncertain situation.
Agencies are working with local authorities to find a solution to get children back to learning as soon as possible. Al Tharique School is one of 66 IDP sites that have sprung up in the District of Trincomalee, It is currently housing a population of 6333 IDPs, mainly from Muttur Division. 997 of are children and 3843 are women.
Sitting on the floor next to her sisters, a girl child read from a textbook she found lying around in the camp at Ayesha Girls College. Kantale in Trincomalee District.
Although most IDPs have been provided with some sort of shelter and other basic necessities like food and clothing by NGOs and local organizations - providing educational and psycho-social support still remains a major challenge. Most children do not have any textbooks or even toys to play with.