Workshop on welfare of war affected children held

[TamilNet, Friday, 11 April 2003, 00:30 GMT]
A workshop on the welfare of war-affected children, organized with the assistance of the UNICEF, is being held Thursday and Friday at the Tamil Eelam Economic Development Organization's (TEEDOR's) Conference Hall in Kilinochchi. Representatives of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Peace Secretariat of the Sri Lankan government, Government agents, Education Officials and Medical Officers of the North-East, representatives of NGOs are participating at the conference, sources said.

The participating NGOS include the UNICEF, UNHCR, UNDP, WHO and the WFP along with the GTZ. The guest speakers at the event on Thursday included Mr. S. Thangan, the deputy head of the LTTE’s political division, Mr. John Gunaratne of the Peace Secretariat, and the resident representative of the UNICEF in Sri Lanka. Vanni workshop
UNDP officials meeting Thamilchelvan

Mr. Thangan gave the inaugural speech and excerpts from his speech follow:

“Tamil people in the North-East have been through a horrendous war coupled with an economic embargo and restriction on freedom of movement. For a continuous period of more than two decades children's education and their nutritional level, especially in the formative ages, were very badly affected.

“These children who faced discrimination in all aspects of life were subjected to indiscriminate shelling, aerial bombardment and multiple displacements. They faced hunger and misery. They were killed while in school, while in the playground and even when they took refuge in churches and temples, fearing aerial bombardment on their villages. Most of them lost their parents, witnessed their mothers and sisters being molested and killed. Their brothers and sisters disappeared overnight, their remains retrieved from mass graves. The trauma pushed most of them to the brink of frustration and despair.

“This gave them the determination to fight against injustice. Those children who could not fight had the only option of seeking refuge in our organization for security and safety. As a responsible organization, it was a responsibility and a challenge to us to safeguard these children and make them useful citizens.

“In fact, our organization started this freedom struggle for the betterment of the future generation and therefore we took on this challenge to provide them shelter, security and proper education with our limited resources. The last regime in this country prosecuted this war while causing severe hardships to civilians. Sadly, there was conspicuous inaction on the part of people who should have acted to prevent this humanitarian disaster to the children.

“However, it gives us a sense of satisfaction and relief that at least now, we are able to sit down here in this august assembly to discuss on the ways and means to alleviate the hardships our children face and provide them the lost opportunity to enjoy childhood in the right environment and become good citizens.

"I congratulate you and those of you in the UNICEF, for your noble commitment, and assure you that our organization will not only extend our support but also will be an active partner in your mission. I wish you success in your mission.”

Vanni workshop

Vanni workshop


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