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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Getting children back to school in Thailand

© UNICEF/ HQ04-0955/ Rattarasarn
Children in the district of Takua Pa in Phang Nga

THAILAND, 7 January 2005 - Children have returned to schools in the hard-hit areas of Thailand devastated by the tsunamis.  In the district of Phang Nga, and in other affected areas, UNICEF is providing tents, tarpaulin and school clothing for the returning students.

Children were transported in military trucks from their temporary shelters to nearby schools.  In the six tsunami-affected provinces around half of the children returned to school two days ago and many more resumed classes today. 

Government officials are compiling lists to ensure that children return to school and UNICEF is helping to monitor attendance and identify children who are suffering from trauma.

UNICEF Programme Coordinator in Thailand, Andrew Morris reports that many children are afraid to return to their school – reluctant to leave their parents’ side. At the largest school in Phang Nga the mood is extremely somber. The children have returned to their classrooms only to find many of their classmates gone – victims of the tsunamis.

“Unfortunately that [the largest school] school did suffer quite a few casualties. Quite a few students died. So children are showing up today, they are wondering where their classmates are – one-third of the children in that school are either dead or missing so that is very traumatic for them and some of their teachers lost their lives as well,” said Mr. Morris.

UNICEF is making children’s education a priority in the wake of the disaster. “We will be doing a lot of things with schools and make sure teachers have the skills and knowledge to know how to help these children start to recover,” added Mr. Morris.

UNICEF is bringing in psychiatrists and social workers to assist teachers in affected areas in addition to providing much-needed material support such as sports equipment and school supplies. 




6 January 2005: UNICEF Programme Coordinator in Thailand, Andrew Morris talks about children returning to schools in the aftermath of the tsunami

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