Sri Lanka's lost children reunited thanks to humanitarian efforts
Aug 1, 2011
Sri Lanka's 20-plus-year conflict may be over, but even after two years of peace, 630 children are still missing, according to IRIN.
Government officials say that many of the children were reported missing as the war ended in May of 2009 when the Sri Lankan government defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who had been fighting for an independent Tamil since 1983.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported that during the final heat of the conflict, 64 percent of the "lost" children had been recruited by the LTTE, while 30 percent were reported to have been fighting for the government.
As the war ended, over 300,000 residents were removed from areas that were held by the LTTE. Once they were secured in camps, many mothers began the search for their children, the news outlet reported.
"There were women crying outside my office, asking me to find their children," Piencia Charles, the most senior government official in the Vavuniya District, told IRIN.
Charles, alongside UNICEF, set up the Family Tracing Unit within the country in December of 2009 as a way to try and help families find their children, the news outlet reported.
"It's something I felt I had to do. There was no mechanism in place to search for these kids. The parents were in so much pain," Charles told the news source.
The humanitarian efforts have since reunited over 600 children with their parents, with more leads coming in daily.
For Charles, finding the children has given hope for finding adults as well, which is another mission of hers.
"I am looking for some funding to set up a unit to trace the missing adults. Maybe by the end of this year I can get something going," Charles told the news source.