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A catastrophe for Sri Lanka’s children

Kathmandu, 12 May 2009 – With more children killed and injured in the past 48 hours, UNICEF today denounced the disastrous impact of the conflict in Sri Lanka on children.

“With an estimated 50,000 civilians trapped in a tiny space of just a few square kilometers we fear many more children will be killed if the current Government offensive continues and if the LTTE refuses to allow civilians to leave the conflict zone,” said UNICEF’s Regional Director for South Asia, Daniel Toole.

Thousands of civilians including many children have been killed or injured in this conflict since the beginning of the year.

“The UN Secretary General has made it clear that the world is watching this crisis closely. This latest surge in fighting is a catastrophe for children and shows a complete disregard for these most vulnerable of civilians,” said Toole.

UNICEF again called on the Government of Sri Lanka to show maximum restraint in its military actions to ensure protection of civilians, and on the LTTE to immediately allow civilians to leave the fierce fighting.

UNICEF also expressed its alarm at the dire living conditions within the conflict zone where a critical lack of medicines, food and clean water are adding to the suffering of those trapped.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:

James Elder, Communication Chief, UNICEF Sri Lanka, Mobile: 94-777416742, Office: 94-11-2555270 ext 250 jelder@unicef.org

Sarah Crowe, Regional Chief of Communications, UNICEF South Asia, Mobile:   +91 9910532314. Office: +91 1124606247 scrowe@unicef.org

Patrick McCormick, Emergencies Media Officer, UNICEF New York, Tel: + 212 326 7426 e-mail: pmccormick@unicef.org




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