Save the Children responds to humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka
Thousands of children and their families remain trapped in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) no-fire zone in northern Sri Lanka. Conditions for the IDPs (internally displaced persons) who are not allowed by the LTTE to come out of this area of conflict are desperate, and there are reports of a scarcity of food, clean water, health care facilities and shelter. The toll on civilians due to the fighting is heavy; while having to deal with multiple displacements many have been killed and injured. Children are also among these and are at risk of being recruited as well.
The children and their families that have been able to flee the fighting are also facing incredible challenges. Children who have been forced to leave their homes, and children from communities that are hosting families that have been displaced, are missing out on education. The Government Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka expects many children to be malnourished so health and nutrition of children is a great concern. Camps for displaced people are overcrowded causing water and sanitation problems and people in the camps have limited access to essential vaccines, medicines and oral rehydration solutions. Some children have become separated from their families when fleeing the conflict.
"The children who have been fortunate enough to flee the conflict are distressed by what they have experienced. They have been displaced many times, faced constant shelling, seen their relatives and friends killed," said Prasant Naik, Save the Children's Country Director for Sri Lanka.
There is currently no access for international NGOs to the displaced people in the Vanni districts but Save the Children is working with the thousands of displaced people who are currently in government-run camps in Vavuniya and Mannar. A team of 30 staff are operating from Save the Children offices in Mannar, Vavuniya and Jaffna in the north of Sri Lanka.
Save the Children aims to reach 37, 500 children and their families through its emergency response. Water and sanitation will be improved by setting up water tanks, building toilets and distributing hygiene kits within the camps. So far, 19 children's safe play spaces have been set up for over 4,000 children. Children that are separated from their families are being registered in the hope to reunite them with their families. 14,000 children and more than 1000 pregnant or breast-feeding mothers have received supplementary food items. 25 temporary learning centres have been set up for more than 4,000 children.
Save the Children is appealing to the public for donations so that they can do more for the children that are caught up in this humanitarian crisis.
To make a donation call 0800 167 168.
Save the Children has spokespeople available in Colombo and London. Please contact email@example.com or 00 44 20 7012 6863, 0044 7854 354 994 or on the 24 hour press office line 0044 7831 650 409
For more information about Save the Children New Zealand please contact Shelley McCarten, Communications Advisor, 04 381 7573 / 021 108 9131 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to the editor:
- Since late 2008, the conflict in Sri Lanka between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) has intensified. Until recently, the UN stated that approximately 150,000 to 190,000 people were displaced and trapped in the diminishing LTTE controlled areas in the Vanni in the north east of Sri Lanka. This number is rapidly decreasing as tens of thousands of people are now fleeing this area into camps in government controlled areas.
- Save the Children New Zealand played a significant part in providing immediate relief to Sri Lanka after the tsunami in 2004, as well as working with internally displaced persons (IDP) by improving the care, protection and education needs of children living in IDP settlements in Kilinochchi district. Save the Children's programmes have been running in Sri Lanka for 30 years working in education, livelihoods, child protection and child rights.
- Cost Examples:
$10 could provide a family with a hygiene kit containing essentials such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, nappies, soap, baby powder and baby potties
$12 could buy a child a pair of shoes, or support a malnourished child or pregnant woman with supplementary feeding for a month
$30 could buy a baby suit for 20 infants
$50 could provide four pre-school age children with learning and play materials such as pencils, pens, paper, building blocks and picture cards.