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Sri Lanka

UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman visits northern Sri Lanka to discuss tsunami relief

© UNICEF video
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman and Deputy Executive Director Toshiyuki Niwa help deliver education supplies to a school in Kilinochchi, Sri Lanka.

By Steve Nettleton

KILINOCHCHI, Sri Lanka, 18 June 2005 – Following visits to tsunami-devastated areas of Sri Lanka, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman today visited Kilinochchi in a northern area controlled by the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). During her trip Ms. Veneman got a firsthand look at UNICEF-supported work for the rehabilitation of schools and other facilities for children that had been damaged by years of conflict.

Ms. Veneman held talks with the political leader of the LTTE, S. P. Tamilselvan, to discuss tsunami relief efforts for the conflict-affected areas in the north and east. The meeting came one day after Ms. Veneman’s meeting with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo. Ms. Veneman voiced support for joint coordination between the government and the LTTE in getting tsunami aid to survivors.

UNICEF has worked with the government and other partners to set up or repair water and sanitation systems and supported efforts to get 200,000 children back to school as quickly as possible in the weeks after the tsunami. UNICEF is also supporting psychosocial counselling for more than 40,000 children.

© UNICEF video
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman is greeted by children during her visit to northern Sri Lanka.

The needs of children

Earlier in her three-day visit to Sri Lanka, Ms. Veneman toured tsunami-hit areas on the east coast, including the site of a school that was swept away by the waves. She also visited a camp for survivors who were forced to flee their homes, and listened to firsthand accounts of the destruction.

“It was truly devastating to see the damage and distress the tsunami has caused here in Sri Lanka,” said Ms. Veneman. “But it was heartening to see how communities are coming together to recover from this disaster.”

Ms. Veneman called on all those involved in tsunami efforts to keep a special focus on the needs of children.



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