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UNICEF supports effort to trace missing children in post-conflict Sri Lanka

Written by kumaran   // July 21, 2011   // Comments Off

missing kids sl Jhoncy (centre), 20, is flanked by her sisters Nirojini,14, and Jenitta, 11,Their brother Jhonson, 17, is missing.

Jhoncy sits in the shaded courtyard of a children’s home, alone in quiet thought. Understandably, she has a lot on her mind.

When we arrive, Jhoncy, 20, gets up from her chair and wanders over to greet us. We shake hands and she looks us in the eye. Her first question is, “Can you help me find my brother?” More than two years have passed since she last heard of Jhonson, who should be 17 years old. He has disappeared. Jhoncy’s quest to know what has happened to him has become the source of a deep, lingering pain for her.

Family-tracing skills

Since December 2009, UNICEF has supported the Family Tracing Unit based in Vavuniya, northern Sri Lanka. This joint venture with the government aims to help reunite families such as Jhoncy’s, who were separated during the final phase of Sri Lanka’s civil conflict.

Five officers in the unit have been trained in family-tracing skills. At the same time, UNICEF has sustained family-tracing work undertaken by the local government’s probation service. This service had already reunited more than 600 children with their families soon after the conflict here ended in May 2009.

“In collaboration with the government, it is important that we address the needs of the most vulnerable, says UNICEF Sri Lanka Child Protection Specialist Saji Thomas. “This includes trying to locate children who are unaccounted for, and supporting their families, who are often beside themselves wondering what has happened to their sons and daughters.” [Read More]

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