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Many Tsunami Children Feel Hopeful About Future

Many Tsunami Children Feel Hopeful About Future, According To New UN Survey

One year after the tsunami dramatically changed their lives, children in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand feel hopeful about the future, while those in Indonesia are recovering at a slower pace, according to a survey of youngsters released today by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

In the survey, UNICEF Tsunami Relief Study – The Views of Affected Children, 1,633 children in the four countries were interviewed about their thoughts and feelings on the disaster and their future. The survey polled children 8-17 years old, all of whom where directly affected by the tsunami.

The survey indicates that while children’s lives continue to be affected by the 26 December tsunami, which killed over 230,000 people and displaced some 1.5 million more in 12 countries, they are optimistic and hopeful about their future. More than two-thirds of the children feel that their situation has improved and that they are better off now compared to the weeks immediately following the tsunami.

UNICEF commissioned the study to better understand how surviving this tragedy has affected children, to provide an honest and authentic perspective directly from the children and to improve programs that meet the needs of the tsunami generation. Key findings include:

  • Some 80 percent of children polled in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand are positive about their future. “Hopeful, happy, confident” are the words they use to describe their feelings. In Indonesia, children have the least optimistic view of the future; one-third believes their lives will not improve, possibly because a staggering 69 per cent of those surveyed there had lost a family member.
  • Many children are still afraid. More than half those surveyed in India and Sri Lanka fear another earthquake or tsunami, and 76 per cent interviewed in Thailand fear the loss of a loved one. More than one-third of those polled in Indonesia said they often feel alone.
  • Virtually all children interviewed were aware they benefited from relief assistance, but also felt that additional aid was needed. The children identified several key needs, most often mentioning support to stay in school, though 9 out of 10 identified themselves as back in school.

A separate series of 800 focus-group discussions carried out in 1,100 villages in Sri Lanka by the country’s Human Rights Commission in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the University of Colombo, found survivors suffering from social stigma, depression among widowers and increased alcohol use among teenagers.

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