Statement on Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka

45 children among the death-toll so far, scores of children injured, many children orphaned.

Joint statement by Jean Gough, Regional Director, UNICEF South Asia, and Tim Sutton, Representative UNICEF Sri Lanka

23 April 2019, Colombo, Sri Lanka: UNICEF is deeply shocked and saddened by the terrible violence directed against families including children, gathered in churches and hotels on Easter Sunday (21st April 2019) across Sri Lanka. We express our deepest sympathy to the victims, families and communities impacted by these brutal attacks.

News of how these attacks have affected children and adolescents is still coming in, but we now know that 45 children* — both Sri Lankan and other nationalities — have been killed and scores more are injured and are now fighting for their lives in intensive care units across the country. Many children have lost one or both parents, and countless children have been witness to shocking and senseless violence.

UNICEF is working closely with Government partners to collect reliable information on the situation of children and adolescents impacted. As of now, UNICEF has identified the following needs and is responding in the following way:

  • Some hospitals where children are admitted are in need of essential medical supplies. UNICEF is in the process of procuring and providing needed supplies.
  • Children who have been separated from parents are in need of support to identify relatives and connect with their families. Children who have lost parents are in need of permanent placements. UNICEF is providing financial and technical assistance to Probation Services to help reunite children with their parents or place them with family members and caregivers.
  • Psycho-social support and counselling is also identified as a major need. This week, UNICEF will be providing ‘psycho-social first aid’ to children and their families who have been impacted.
  • UNICEF continues to provide support to the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and Ministry of Health in coordinating data collection and to ensure that children and adolescents are prioritized in this response.

UNICEF condemns this violence in the strongest possible terms. No child or parent should experience such violence or loss. Every child has the right to safety and security.

*Please note: These figures are likely to change as more information is made available by the authorities

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For further information about UNICEF please contact:

Nicole Lawrence, External Communications Manager, UNICEF Australia
Tel: +61 4 1974 8624, nlawrence@unicef.org.au

Jeremy Sprigge, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Sri Lanka
Tel: +94 77 723 6548, jsprigge@unicef.org

Suzanne Wooster-Prematilaka, Communication Officer, UNICEF Sri Lanka
Tel: +94 77 316 5378, swooster@unicef.org

Anne-Sophie Bonefeld, Regional Chief of Communication, UNICEF South Asia
Tel: +977 980 103 0076, abonefeld@unicef.org