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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Caring for Sri Lankan children who have lost parents

© UNICEF/HQ05-0162/Noorani
Small children bowl with equipment from a UNICEF Recreation Kit at a relief camp for people displaced by the tsunami in the southern city of Matara.

NEW YORK, 10 February 2005 - More than a month after the tsunami killed more than thirty thousand Sri Lankans, UNICEF is focusing on the long-term care of children who have either become orphaned or lost a parent.

According to UNICEF estimates, 3,500 children have lost one parent and 1,000 children are being cared for by extended family while their parents are being traced. UNICEF is working with government agencies to register children and provide material support for survivors, including basic household supplies and educational equipment.

“We’ve also provided 100,000 students with school uniforms. These are the kinds of steps we’re taking to see that children get into school, and stay in school, and their parents are able to better cope,” said UNICEF Communication Officer Geoffrey Keele.

© UNICEF/HQ05-0161/Noorani
Sports equipment and other games from a UNICEF-supplied Recreation Kit are distributed to children at a relief camp for people displaced by the tsunami in the southern city of Matara.

Sri Lanka is having to start addressing the social and economic issues arising from the fact that many households have lost the husband and father, leading to serious long-term consequences for the mother.

“These are women who do not have the same income earning potential as men in this country. There are far fewer jobs, particularly in the remoter regions in the east,” said Geoffrey Keele. “Its also much more difficult for women to remarry once a husband has passed away and that means they are left with the children, trying to find work, trying to earn a living and trying to care for them.”

“There are a lot of families in this country that are going to need real support from the government and aid agencies in order to cope with this new burden,” he said.




10 February 2005:
UNICEF Communication Officer Geoffrey Keele describes what UNICEF is doing to support children who have lost parents.

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