Want of food said afflicting war traumatised children

[TamilNet, Sunday, 18 March 2001, 18:58 GMT]
counseling-program_1_180301.jpg"How can a traumatized child be rehabilitated psychologically when there is bombing and shelling daily in the war zone?" asked Mr.S.Subramaniam, Director of Education North East Provincial Council speaking Sunday at a meeting in Trincomalee town for officials of the Provincial Department of Social Services trained under a counseling program sponsored by Save the Children Norway (SCN) to rehabilitate children traumatized by war in the northeast. " We do not know how traumatized children in the war torn areas of the northeast are fed. Ninety percent of the children here would be psychologically sound if they are properly fed before they reach the age of 5. If they aren't fed properly before 5 they cannot be rehabilitated psychologically", said Mr. S.M Croos North East Provincial Director of Social Services in his address.

Mr.Croos who was the Government Agent of Mannar for several years asked, apparently in an oblique reference to the economic embargo on the Vanni, "Are we in a situation to satisfy the food requirements of children in the war zone? Children in war torn areas just survive on the issue of dry rations. How long can they survive on dry rations?"

Mr.Subramaniam, drawing attention to the plight of children in the Vanni, said, " The Wanni region is badly affected by the war. On one side the war is going on. On the other hand foreign NGOs are drawing their development programs to rehabilitate the affected children and other victims traumatized by war, "

"The rehabilitation project for children traumatized by war will not bear fruit unless the war is brought to an end. Any rehabilitation program should be implemented after the dawn of permanent peace in the northeast. International non-governmental organizations such as Save the Children Norway should work hard to bring peace in the northeast before implementing any rehabilitation projects", he said.

counseling-program_2_180301.jpg"Having lost their childhood, many children have become " carerers" for invalid adults and have assumed the role of adults in every sense. Devoid of any purpose in education, as they see their future to be bleak" said a spokesman of the SCN.

The officials trained under the SCN program have been given the task of rehabilitating children traumatized by the war in the northeast.

The function was held at Uppuveli Pastoral House in Trincomalee this morning.

The family counseling program is a project initiated by the SCN in Batticaloa and Ampara districts in the eastern province to provide psychosocial care for children affected by the ongoing armed conflict.

Save the Children Norway, a member of International Save the Children Alliance, has been working in Sri Lanka for 25 years, as Redd Barnna Sri Lanka (RBSL). Save the Children Norway ( SCN) replaced Redd Barna.

SCN's efforts are to promote the rights of children, increase access to basic education, fight child labor, fight sexual exploitation of children, rehabilitate children traumatized by war and document structural causes of discrimination against children.

As the implementing agency of this family-counseling program, SCN has taken steps to provide special training to government officials from local non-governmental organizations, university lecturers and professionals in counseling and psychosocial reintegration to work with children and their families in need of special support.

The first batch of officers have completed their training under this scheme. They were awarded diploma certificates this morning on completing the 12 month training.

Dr.Suppiah Rajaram, psychologist from South India who conducted the training program said " this ongoing armed conflict has left inexplicable miseries, sufferings, losses and destruction in all spheres. Children are the worst affected in this war".

Mr.Gunnar Anderson, Sri Lanka's Resident Representative of Save the Children Norway said, " civil stability is the key element in implementing such projects in areas affected by war. But it is unfortunate to say that it is beyond our control to bring the war to an end".

Northeast Provincial Council Chief Secretary G.Kirushnamoorthy was the chief guest. Provincial Ministry Secretary for Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Social Affairs Mr.S.Amirthalingam, Director of Provincial Industries Irenius Selvin, Secretary to the Provincial Public Service Commission Ms Kamala Sivasithambaram also spoke.

SCN is implementing this project only in Batticaloa and Ampara districts in the eastern province except Trincomalee district which is being covered by Save the Children Fund-UK.

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