Humanitarian Action for Children 2012


© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-2127/Pietrasik

Chandra and her nephew work in their vegetable garden, in Palchenai Village, Batticaloa District. They lost family to both conflict and the 2004 tsunami. After 30 years of war, nearly 112,000 returning families need assistance.

Sri Lanka Joint Plan of Assistance to the Northern Province, April 2012


Children and Women in Crisis

The end of a nearly 30-year civil war in May 2009 marked a period of promise in Sri Lanka, which needs to be translated into tangible new opportunities for the most vulnerable children and youth and their families in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. As of end August 2011, nearly 382,000 people had returned to their districts of origin with hopes of reclaiming their lives. Yet the years of war have taken a serious toll on already limited health services, water and sanitation facilities, education systems and protective safety nets. Landmines and unexploded ordnance remain deadly, hidden threats throughout the North and East of Sri Lanka.

Recovery efforts, including improving local infrastructure and expanding educational opportunities, are critical for the future of the newly returned population, which includes nearly 112,000 families. Additionally, 7,500 displaced persons, including close to 2,300 families, remain in camps. The number of returnees and displaced, including the long-term displaced population, is more than 500,000.1 The humanitarian goal remains to support these Sri Lankans in returning to their homes and provide access to improved social services, particularly to the most vulnerable returning children, to support building upon the current momentum towards reconciliation.

Meeting Urgent Needs in 2012

UNICEF Sri Lanka is leading the WASH and nutrition clusters and the child protection sub-cluster, and is co-lead of the education cluster together with Save the Children. In 2012, UNICEF will work with the Government of Sri Lanka, other UN agencies, local and international NGOs, and host communities in addressing the needs of vulnerable women and children in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

Humanitarian Funding at Work: Highlights from 2011

As of end October 2011, donor funding had provided 85 per cent of the requested US$14,750,000. This funding enabled the provision of nutritional and therapeutic supplements to more than 16,000 severely and moderately malnourished children. More than 10,000 children under 5 and pregnant or breastfeeding women gained access to health services in the recently refurbished Mullaitivu General Hospital. The general health status in resettlement areas was improved with the ongoing construction and renovation of 13 primary health-care centres in Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Mannar districts in the Northern Province. 

Safe water was provided to more than 33,000 resettled people through the cleaning and upgrading of 874 dug wells and drilling of 27 tube wells. The rehabilitation and construction of 597 toilets improved sanitation and hygiene, and 105 educational sessions promoted better hygiene practices. 
Access to quality education was improved for approximately 37,000 children by rehabilitating 80 schools and training more than 700 teachers in the ALP. 

Business training and self-employment grants were provided to 667 youth, while 644 vulnerable families, including 1,900 children, received cash grants. Education about landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) benefited approximately 170,000 children and 152,000 adults living in at-risk areas.

Funding Requirements for 2012

UNICEF is requesting US$20,512,000 to carry out its planned activities in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. This amount is more than that requested in 2011 due to the increasing number of displaced people being resettled in areas where limited or no infrastructure and services are available. Funding support by donors remains crucial to ensure that urgent services will be provided for children and women rebuilding their lives in former conflict-affected areas.

More information on humanitarian action planned for 2012 can be found at and the country office website at

1 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘Joint Humanitarian and Early Recovery Update: Report #35’, OCHA, New York, August 2011, p. 1. There are two major caseloads of displaced people in Sri Lanka. Those recently displaced or ‘new’ internally displaced persons refer to those displaced after April 2008 and the ‘old’ protracted caseload refers to those displaced prior to April 2008. Note that the total population returned to the Northern Province includes returns from both categories of internally displaced persons.