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December 26, 2004 Tsunami

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Many Tsunami Children Left Without Families

Sanga, A 12-year-old Sri Lankan girl who lost both of her parents in the tsuanmi.
Sanga, a 12-year-old Sri Lankan girl
who lost both of her parents in the tsunami.

January 12, 2005

by Kevin Caruso

Many children who survived the tsunami disaster have lost their families, and most of these children end up in tsunami refugee camps.

In Batoploa, Sri Lanka, a local temple is serving as one of those refugee camps.

Sanga, a 12-year-old girl who lost her entire family, is living there. She recounted the horrors of when the tsunami hit: “When the water came, I was very frightened. I ran, and our home is now gone. All of the houses were destroyed…I lost my family.”

And the number of children in Sanga’s position is disturbingly high.

Over 150,000 people have died in the tsunamis, and at least one-third of the dead are children, according to the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF).

Charles Lyons, president of UNICEF, believes the rate is even higher.

“Children are much less able to run away, fight the water, hold onto or climb a tree," said Lyons. "Adults that were stronger were more likely to survive; the youngest were simply unable to."

The children who have survived hold out hope for being reunited with their parents. But sometimes they are told that their parents were found…but are dead.

The overwhelming emotions that these children are coping with can lead to clinical depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide.

According to WebMD, half of the children exposed to the disaster may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives.

And those who have lost their families are most vulnerable.

Photo Courtesy of AP
Copyright © AP

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