Japan to continue helping Sri Lanka

The Government of Japan will continue its proactive support for the recovery in the conflict affected areas, and to the overall development of Sri Lanka in cooperation with the Government of Sri Lanka as well as the international community and NGOs, Japanese Ambassador Nobuhito Hobo said today.

Japan has partnered with UNICEF to extend support to the Family Tracing and Reunification Project. A funding grant of US$ 445,000 will be used to help families looking for their missing children, provide psychosocial support and build capacity of probation and childcare services.

Hobo, UNICEF representative to Sri Lanka Reza Hossaini and Major General G. A. Chandrasiri, Governor of the Northern Province attended the launch ceremony held at the Japanese Ambassador’s Residence.

The Lessons Learned Reconciliation Commission report highlighted the importance of the work being done for tracing missing children by Government Agencies including the Department of Probation and Child Care in the Northern Province and UNICEF.

Commenting on the new initiative, Ambassador Hobo said “Japan is very glad to contribute to this important process of family reunification through this assistance. I hope that today’s briefing will raise awareness among the people about the facility to trace missing children, so that more concerned families can seek assistance for family tracing and reunification.”

“We welcome this generous contribution by the Government of Japan. Their support will importantly help families of missing children to access tracing services and psychosocial support to enable them to move on with their lives” said UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative, Reza Hossaini.

The Family Tracing and Reunification Unit (FTRU) was established in 2009 to help families of children who were displaced and went missing during the conflict. The FTRU has so far recorded 2,431 tracing applications, of which 745 (Boys 386 and Girls 359) are related to children. To date 148 children have been matched and referred to Probation for tracing, verification, and reunification. The age analysis for children shows that the great majority are between 16 and 18 years.

Funds will be used to help the FTRU to; provide timely and detailed documentation and tracing of missing children and support their parents and relatives; increase the capacity of the childcare and social service officers to better respond to tracing and reunification of missing children; build awareness among communities and help facilitate the tracing process; and provide psycho-social support for the families. The project will be implemented through UNICEF’s existing partnership with the Department of Probation and Child Care Services, Social Services and other stakeholders.