© UNICEF/NYHQ2007-2642/Haviv

A girl queues with her mother at a nutrition clinic in Vaharai Village, Batticaloa District. The country continues to recover from 30 years of war, as refugees and the internally displaced return home and social services are slowly rebuilt.

Children and women in crisis

Sri Lanka’s 30-year civil war, which ended in May 2009, took a serious toll on health services, water and sanitation facilities, education systems and protective safety nets for women and children living in Northern and Eastern Provinces. There is a massive effort at recovery under way, with each step both a promise for the future and a reminder of the past. Many of those who are able to return to their homes find their movements – and their livelihoods – circumscribed by fields littered with unexploded ordnance and landmines. Many children are able to attend school, but find they need to catch up from a severe schooling deficit wrought by years of violence and periodic displacement. After years of conflict, there are approximately 42,000 women who find themselves alone as head of household, which causes significant economic stress and has a detrimental impact on the quality of care for children.

The humanitarian need of those who remain displaced is particularly acute. In the last months of fighting, more than 280,000 people were displaced due to the conflict, and around 100,000 are still threatened by poor nutrition and health care, insufficient sanitation and education, and unexploded ordnance and landmines.1  An additional 300,000 people displaced over the course of the conflict – some since 1990 – also remain in need of solutions.2 The great humanitarian challenge is to help Sri Lankans safely and completely return to their homes.

Meeting urgent needs and building resilience in 2011

UNICEF Sri Lanka is leading the WASH and nutrition clusters as well as the child protection sub-cluster, and is co-lead of the education cluster with Save the Children. In 2011, UNICEF will continue to work with the Government of Sri Lanka, other UN agencies, local and international NGOs, and host communities in addressing the needs of 362,000 children and 214,000 women.

Humanitarian funding at work: Highlights from 2010

In 2010, UNICEF estimated that US$20,082,000 was needed to fund its humanitarian work in Sri Lanka. As of October 2010, a total of US$10,781,415 had been received, or 54 per cent. With this level of donor funding, UNICEF made progress towards improving the prospects of children and women by helping construct and equip essential health facilities in Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Vavuniya. UNICEF ensured the supply of anthropometric equipment, therapeutic milk and other nutritional and health supplements to treat about 42,000 children, adolescents and pregnant and lactating women among at-risk populations. Safe water supply to the resettled population was provided through the cleaning and upgrading of 3,582 dug wells, repairing of 91 tube wells, and drilling of 27 tube wells for 196,000 internally displaced persons, while hygienic means of waste disposal was provided through the rehabilitation or construction of 32 latrines. Learning supplies for around 75,000 returnee and host school children were distributed in Northern Province. Mine-risk education reached an estimated 333,983 individuals including 84,785 boys and 92,580 girls.

Funding requirements for 20113

UNICEF is requesting US$9,825,0004 to carry out its planned activities in Sri Lanka in 2011, half of the amount requested in 2010 due to the rapidly changing context.  Full and prompt funding by donors is crucial to ensure the well-being of children and women in a country marked by a long-standing civil war.

More information on 2010 achievements and details of humanitarian action planned for Sri Lanka in 2011 can be found at www.unicef.org/hac2011 or at the country office website at www.unicef.org/srilanka.

1 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ‘2010 UNHCR Country Operations Profile: Sri Lanka’, Geneva, <www.unhcr.org/pages/49e4878e6.html>, accessed 7 December 2010.
2 Ibid.
3 A six-month Flash Appeal was launched on 18 January 2011 in response to devastating floods and landslides. The UNICEF requirements of US$9,903,600 through the Flash Appeal are in addition to the Humanitarian Action for Children requirements.
4 These funding requirements are part of the Joint Plan for Assistance (JPA) for Northern Province in 2011, launched in-country on 1 February 2011.

UNICEF Emergency Needs for 2011 (in US dollars) Total $9,825,000