Emergency relief in Sri Lanka
In 2009, nearly 300,000 people were internally displaced as a result of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka that has now thankfully come to an end. During the conflict, SOS Children's Villages Sri Lanka established a temporary care project in the Chettikulum Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, where 36,000 people were living. SOS Children provided care for 215 children between the ages of 18 months to 19 years who were not accompanied by adults, either because they had been orphaned by the violent clashes or because they lost sight of their families in the chaos and confusion that ensued in the northern part of Sri Lanka.
SOS Children continue to provide care for children through the Emergency Relief Programme in the IDP camp. So far, 86 children have been reunited with their biological families. SOS Children continue to cooperate with the local authorities and other NGOs to reunite children with their families as soon as possible and another 57 will be shortly reunified. For the remaining 92 children whose families cannot be traced, SOS Children continue to provide care and support by supplying food and shelter. The children live in single-sex dormitories and are cared for by a temporary ‘SOS mother’. Children are offered trauma therapy and health counselling in the temporary shelter. A medical room provides treatment for minor injuries and aliments.
SOS Children have also established a temporary school in the IDP camp and offer extra tuition classes to children when required. The school also offers leisure activities for the children, including classical dancing, cricket and netball. SOS Staff have arranged various visits outside of the camp, including trips to a famous Catholic Church and Hindu temples nearby.
Older children have been supported by SOS Children to further their education; five youth who were over 18 have now begun vocational training at Don Bosco Technical Institute, Jaffna.
The Emergency Relief Programme in Sri Lanka will continue until at least the end of 2010. SOS Children are concerned with the long-term care of children and will continue to care for the children who have no one else to turn to. Various options are currently being considered; including the possibility of building a new SOS Children’s Village near Jaffna, the northernmost town in Sri Lanka to provide permanent family homes for the children.