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Sri Lanka: Thousands of children in urgent need of immediate humanitarian support



April 24, 2009 – Thousands of children are in urgent need of immediate humanitarian support in Sri Lanka.

© Reuters/Stringer
Civilians arrive at the village of Putumatalan in Puthukkudiyirippu, northern Sri Lanka, after fleeing an area still controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
This week around 100,000 people fled the conflict zone in the north, which means that the number of people entering camps for the internally displaced is expected to more than double in the coming days.

The urgent need for assistance by these children and families, who have endured great hardships in recent months, will put even greater strain on already overcrowded camps.

Tens of thousands of civilians – including a large number of children – remain trapped in the conflict zone. Those still trapped are living in dire circumstances and consistently being caught in the crossfire from fierce fighting. With this latest surge in fighting, UNICEF’s is gravely concerned that many more children may be killed.

UNICEF has been working in Sri Lanka to help children survive and thrive since the early 1950s. We strongly support the call by the UN Secretary-General for a cessation in fighting and for a humanitarian pause, during which aid workers could access the conflict zone, and civilians who want to leave are given the chance to do so. Civilians must be allowed to move to safe areas where they can be reached with essential humanitarian support.

Children and families coming out of the conflict-affected areas have endured extreme conditions, including severe shortages of food, water and sanitation, for extended periods of time. This week, UNICEF sent 20 metric tonnes of high-energy biscuits to Vavuniya for those newly arrived people who currently have scarce access to food.

UNICEF’s emergency support for children and their families in camps includes nutritional support to malnourished children and their mothers, the provision of safe water, latrines, bathing facilities, hygiene kits, emergency health for mothers and children including a pediatric ward and a maternity ward at the Vavuniya general hospital, temporary learning spaces and educational kits for children. UNICEF is supporting the provision of psychosocial support and the identification of separated and unaccompanied children.

UNICEF is in urgent need of additional funding to cover the most immediate needs of displaced people in the areas of health and nutrition, water and sanitation, protection and education.

You can help. To support UNICEF’s relief efforts in emergency situations such as Sri Lanka, please donate now or call 1 877 955-3111.


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 more information about UNICEF, please visit



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