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Up to half of Aceh's casualties children: aid -

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Up to half of Aceh's casualties children: aid agencies

AM - Tuesday, 4 January , 2005 08:04:23

Reporter: Anne Barker

ELEANOR HALL: Aid agencies have found that in Aceh, as many as half of those killed in the tsunami
disaster were children.

In some villages, 90 per cent of those killed were women and children, according to the United
Nations Children's Fund.

And UNICEF's spokesman in Jakarta, John Budd, has told Anne Barker, the loss of so many children
will have a devastating impact on Aceh's future.

JOHN BUDD: I think that women and children have had a disproportionate impact, certainly in terms
of both their deaths and the immediate impact and the aftermath, in particular separated children
and orphans. I think there's no question about that. For example, anecdotally, UNICEF staff up
there have been told that when the tsunami struck a lot of the women and their children were
actually in the fields doing work. So they were among the first to feel the impact of it, they were
killed straight away, while their husbands were away working. That was the first thing that
happened to them.

Secondly, children by themselves, young children, are less able to survive the impact of any sort
of event like this. So a lot of them were killed in that first wave, if you like.

Now what we're finding is that children are suffering disproportionately because they have been
separated. In one instance we've been told in one camp there were 700 children there who had lost
one or both of their parents.

ANNE BARKER: So who's caring for these kids now?

JOHN BUDD: They are being cared for only in temporary camps, nobody in particular is looking after
the kids at all. There's one thing that we are very concerned about at the moment is that a lot of
children are being taken out of Aceh without being registered or in some way their names being
noted somewhere so that we know where those children have gone. And we're very worried, if that's
the case, they may never be reunited with their family at all.

And there's also another potential - if they're older, if they're say a young adolescent for
example, they could be trafficked into commercial sex.

ANNE BARKER: Who's taking them out of Aceh?

JOHN BUDD: They are being shipped out by, you know, well meaning people, in back loaded and cargo
planes bringing cargo up to Banda Aceh.

ANNE BARKER: What will it mean long-term for Aceh to lose so many children?

JOHN BUDD: Well it's devastating. I think that you'd probably find with the numbers of people that
we're talking about, and along the west coast where we don't know what we don't know, you could
indeed see small communities simply ceasing to exist at all.

ELEANOR HALL: UNICEF spokesman John Budd, speaking to Anne Barker in Jakarta.