January 14 2011

Sri Lanka: Temporary care programme moves to Jaffna

14/01/2011 - Since the end of the civil war in May 2009, SOS Children’s Villages has been caring for unaccompanied children in a camp for internally displaced persons near Vavuniya. As parts of the camp were being closed by the authorities, children still in the care of SOS Children’s Villages were moved to Jaffna in the first week of December 2010. In Jaffna, SOS Children’s Villages will start permanent care and support programmes for children and families.

Photo: SOS Archives
Lessons at the temporary care project in Cheddikulem - Photo: SOS  Archives
Due to heavy fighting in the war-torn northern part of Sri Lanka in April 2009, hundreds of thousands of people were stranded in huge IDP camps (IDP – internally displaced person), amongst them hundreds of unaccompanied children. Eventually, the long-awaited end of the civil war was proclaimed in May 2009.

SOS Children’s Villages was able to open a temporary care programme in Zone 4 of the IDP Camp in Cheddikulem (near Vavuniya) in August 2009. Since then, SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka has cared for some 200 unaccompanied children and youth, 120 of which were reunited with their families. Still, 80 children remain in the care of SOS Children’s Villages and will most likely need a permanent new home.

In cooperation with the government authorities, SOS Children’s Villages was ready to immediately start its work in the North after the end of the war to support children without parental care and disadvantaged families. But it took until December 2010 before SOS Children’s Villages was able to begin activities in Jaffna.

Due to the closing of Zone 4 in the IDP Camp in Cheddikulem in November 2010, SOS Children’s Villages was also forced to close its temporary care project in Cheddikulem. As a provisional solution, SOS Children’s Villages has rented two houses in Jaffna to accommodate the 80 children until a new SOS Children’s Village is built. In the first week of December, the children and their care-givers moved to Jaffna. The government has already asked for the admission of a further 60 children who are also victims of the civil war.

SOS Children’s Villages President Helmut Kutin visited various SOS projects in Sri Lanka very recently. At a press conference on 3 January in Piliyandala he expressed his confidence that social programmes and the construction on a new SOS Children’s Village in Jaffna would start as early as this year, thus successfully continuing the commitment of the child care organisation which began working in Sri Lanka in 1980.

Currently, SOS Children’s Villages in Sri Lanka is supporting some 6,700 children through family-based care, education and health services.