ECPAT International advocates that child protection measures must be integral to any emergency response, and its member groups in Indonesia and Sri Lanka are currently working to institute such measures in areas hard hit by the earthquake and tsunami on 26 December.
PKPA, which belongs to the National Coalition for the Elimination of
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, an affiliate group of ECPAT
International, immediately focused on systematically gathering information
on child survivors in an effort to ensure the children’s protection and to
ease later work in connecting them with family members and their
PKPA (Centre for Study and Child Protection) is based in Medan, North
Sumatra, and opened a post on Nias Island, about 125 kilometres off the
coast, by 29 December 2004.
The centre’s key work so far includes:
- Collecting data, having recruited and trained volunteers to help gather
information to identify and record child survivors, especially unaccompanied
- Providing trauma counselling.
- Assisting in registering children in education programmes.
- Providing material aid.
In Nias, PKPA records as of 2 January show that more than 130 children
aged between 0 and 5 years and 298 children aged between 5 and 17
years had been separated from their parents and families. Data collection
on surviving children in the more remote areas of the island has been slow
due to the difficulties of operating in these areas. The lack of satellite
phones means that members of the PKPA assessment team who are
spread through remote areas to gather data are only able to communicate
their findings to the rest of the team on their return to a central location,
such as the Nias capital of Gunung Sitoli. It takes about a day for each
member to travel from outer districts to the town.
Ahmad Sofian, of PKPA, says that many children separated from their
families in Aceh province are now in the North Sumatran capital of Medan.
Many were evacuated by land and air early on. Others are continuing to
flow into Medan by following adult survivors. As of 8 January, more than
1000 children from Aceh were estimated to be in Medan. People are being
accommodated in refugee camps, barns, fields, mosques and houses.
Children are encamped with adults who are neither family nor relatives.
PKPA is monitoring and collecting data about children in Medan and
elsewhere in North Sumatra and providing trauma counselling for children
sheltering in Medan. It is also collecting data about school-aged children
and assisting in registering them at the schools nearest their
accommodation. It is supplying school kits, bags and shoes etc, and will
buy and distribute milk, vitamins, clothes, baby needs and toys for about
PKPA is now extending its information-collection work to include:
Collecting data about children in North Sumatra province, both those who
are with their families and those who separated. Data is to be collected in
Medan, Besitang and the Langkat district, near Aceh province.
Collating data to gauge the number of unaccompanied children.
Giving unaccompanied children an identification bracelet so as to avoid
overlaps in data collection.
Printing and distributing posters of children separated from their families.
Setting up an information centre to help families and children reconnect.
Creating a website for the same purpose.
ECPAT Sri Lanka/P.E.A.C.E. (Protecting Environment And Children
Everywhere) is also gathering data to record and identify child survivors. It
has formed a committee of five community leaders to report on problems
related to unaccompanied children who may be at risk of exploitation.
Concerns are rising about the haphazard and undocumented removal and
transport of child survivors, as well as the risk to unaccompanied children
who are sheltering in refugee centres.
Six centres in two key areas where P.E.A.C.E. works have been badly
affected. In one centre, it is estimated that about 200 children and their
families are affected. Hard data has been difficult to gather, but P.E.A.C.E.
Area Coordinators say about 758 families have been traced and contacted
by P.E.A.C.E. or have sought assistance from the organisation. Extended
reports from the coordinators are expected soon.
Maureen Seneviratne, of P.E.A.C.E., says surviving mothers, children and
young people who had belonged to P.E.A.C.E. programmes are in need of
medicines, clothes, cooked food and dry foodstuffs. P.E.A.C.E. coordinators
are currently organising the supply of such basic necessities.
The most efficient and effective means of providing support to PKPA and
P.E.A.C.E. is to make a financial contribution to the bank accounts of these
organisations (although funds may also be sent to the ECPAT International
Secretariat for dispersal to these groups). For the bank details of the
groups, please contact the groups directly. [Source: CRIN]
Posted on 2005-01-26