Sri Lanka

UNICEF Sri Lanka Humanitarian Situation Report #3, 26 April 2019

Situation Report
Originally published



• According to the Ministry of Health, the death toll from the bombing has been revised downwards from 359 to 253 people after autopsies were completed.

• Scores of children were killed and injured during the April 21, Easter Sunday coordinated suicide bombings/explosions on churches and hotels in the capital city of Colombo, and the cities of Negombo and Batticaloa.

• Government has confirmed 46 children were killed in the attacks. In Batticaloa alone, 13 children were killed, the youngest being just 18 months old. Data about children impacted in Colombo is delayed due to challenges in identifying bodies.

• As of now, according to reports, 25 children have been admitted to hospitals with injuries, scores of them in intensive care unit. The information about impacted children from other locations is being collected by the authorities.

• The security situation in Sri Lanka remains cautious as the government has warned of the potential for more attacks. Consequently, the government has instructed against any religious gathering until the security situation improves.

• The government has closed all schools until April 29; announced a curfew restricting movement of civilians at night; declared a partial state of emergency; and restricted access to major social media sites. Police have arrested 60 individuals in connection with the attacks.

• Initial assessments indicate a shortage of some medical supplies in hospitals and UNICEF is working to meet this need.

• Due to challenges in identification and access, full data about the impact on children is still emerging. Government agencies continue their assessments of the impact of the attacks, including the situation of children and women, with support from UNICEF and other agencies.

• There are concerns for potential communal violence and retaliation. Some existing refugees and asylum seekers from Pakistan and Afghanistan, (who have existing asylum in Sri Lanka) are facing a security threat in Negombo. Currently, members of this community are being sheltered at a police station with some temporarily housed at a community centre.

• The upcoming May-June monsoon season is expected to add to the ongoing situation in Sri Lanka. In the past three years, Monsoon rains have brought large scale natural disasters to the country, with loss of life and displacement. UNICEF is preparing to support the Government and partners to meet the needs of the population in the upcoming Monsoon season.

Situation Overview

The attacks come at a very sensitive time for Sri Lanka, during an ongoing process of national reconciliation and transitional justice in the aftermath of a more than two-decade long conflict, during which 70,000 to 80,000 people are reported to have been killed. Sunday's attacks were the deadliest since the end of the conflict, in 2009. Some sporadic violence has occurred in the interim, in particular, in March 2018 when a state of emergency was declared after members of the majority Buddhist Sinhala community attacked mosques and Muslim-owned properties.

UNICEF and other UN organizations have been supporting the Government to implement peacebuilding and social cohesion programmes and these attacks pose a major threat to these efforts due to risks of the development of damaging narratives about inter-ethnic and inter-religious harmony in the country. Furthermore, the attacks are likely to negatively impact the tourism sector, which is a major source of income. There are concerns for potential communal violence and tension. Over 600 Pakistani and Afghanistan refugees who have been living in Sri Lanka for several years, have fled to a shelter outside of Colombo. Some have been sheltered at a local Police station while others are living under police and military protection at the Ahmadi mosque in Negombo.