How to protect children in the tsunami zone
Keeping Children Safe from Exploitation Requires Action Now, UNICEF SaysLONDON & HANOI, 8 January 2005 – Measures to protect children in the Tsunami zone from exploitation, abuse, and criminal trafficking are needed immediately to prevent them from slipping between the cracks, UNICEF said today, outlining the key steps essential to protecting orphans and other vulnerable children.
“The good news is that most of the needed efforts are already underway,” said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. “But we have to move fast,” she added. “Those who would prey upon children in this chaotic environment are already at work.”
UNICEF said the most vulnerable of the Tsunami generation are those who have lost their parents or have been separated from their families. While no reliable figures yet exist, estimates based on the numbers of dead and displaced suggest there may be thousands of children across the region who fall into these categories. Surveys now underway will help identify the scope of the issue in the next week or so.
UNICEF said there are five key steps essential to keeping vulnerable children safe from exploitation in the immediate term.
- Register all displaced children: UNICEF said that knowing which children are alone or possibly orphaned, and knowing exactly where they are, is the first critical step to protecting them.
In India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia – the hardest-hit of all the tsunami countries – registration is underway. In Aceh, ground zero of the human catastrophe, five child-friendly registration centers in the camps are now open, and 15 more are planned for next week.
- Provide immediate safe care: Children identified as unaccompanied or lost must be placed in the temporary care of adults accountable for their welfare. In displacement camps, separate child-friendly care centers for unaccompanied children may be established. Alternately, children may be placed in community-based children’s homes until their families can be located. Such options have already been identified in each of the countries affected, though more may be needed.
The international standard in a crisis is to keep children as close to their family members and community as possible, UNICEF noted. Staying with relatives in extended family units is generally a better solution than uprooting the child completely.
UNICEF emphasized that child trafficking, sexual exploitation, and extreme child labour are nothing new. But it warned that the breakdown of institutions in wake of the December 26 tsunamis left an opening for unscrupulous and criminal exploitation of the most vulnerable. She noted that the illicit trafficking of human beings is big business, not unlike trafficking in drugs or arms, with real money at stake and powerful interests involved.
“We have to want to protect children as much as others want to exploit them,” Bellamy said. “Based on the quick response of governments to this threat, it’s clear they want to provide that protection. But we have to do it together.”
UNICEF in Viet Nam is also requesting donation from the private sector to help the tsunami victims. This is the first time UNICEF has asked for the contributions from the private sector in Viet Nam to help children outside of Viet Nam.
“We have been receiving many calls of support from individuals and companies in Viet Nam for UNICEF’s initiated relief efforts. We are very grateful to receive donations from individuals and businesses for the children and women in the affected areas” said Mr. Christian Salazar, Officer-in-charge of UNICEF Viet Nam.
Donations can be made through our bank account at:
All donations should be indicated for “Tsunami Appeal”
Donations can also be made directly at UNICEF Viet Nam offices:
or at UNICEF’s official donations boxes which are located in the following restaurants:
For further information please contact