Psychological trauma for children

UNICEF ESTIMATE that tens of thousands of children are facing the possibility of long-term psychological damage due to the loss of their family and possessions in the tsunami tragedy and many could suffer from various diseases caused by epidemics and hunger.

“The children appear to be very reserved, have lost their appetite and their interest in playing and are not forthcoming about sharing their thoughts and feelings about what has happened,” said Veena Takkar, a psychologist from Gargi College in New Delhi. “Many could live with this trauma for the rest of their lives.”

Undernourished at greater risk

Malnourished children are more likely to contract diseases, and medical aid teams are very concerned that these children will catch malaria and get infections caused by drinking untreated water.

Vaccination campaign underway

In order to prevent the spread of diseases, a vaccination campaign has been launched across southern India that will include around 115,000 children.

35,000 orphaned in Sumatra

In the province of Aceh, south of Sumatra, Indonesia, it is calculated that there are around 35,000 children who have been orphaned by the disaster. All adoptions are suspended for the time being, due to the concern of the authorities that children could fall into the hands of criminals wishing to profit from the situation.

UNICEF believe that the children really need to be in familiar surroundings and have contact with the remaining people from their communities. Shina Islam, representing UNICEF in London, said: “The rebuilding of the schools that were destroyed is fundamental to the children’s psychological condition and for the increase of their safety and security.”