UNICEF, the United Nations children's agency, praised Sri Lanka for its “effective response to COVID-19” and being among the first South Asian countries to reopen schools, despite previously condemning Sri Lanka’s history of violence against children.
“The best place for children to learn – especially the most vulnerable – is with their teachers and friends in a positive, safe school environment,” added Tim Sutton of UNICEF Sri Lanka in a press release issued on Wednesday.
The Sri Lankan Ministry of Education and Health Promotion Bureau have partnered with UNICEF to launch a national campaign to limit the risk of COVID-19, as schools reopen. “Everyone deserves a safe learning environment,” said U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz.
The collaborative campaign has launched the same week as the remembrance of the Sencholai massacre where, the Sri Lanka Air Force bombed the Sencholai Girls Orphanage, killing 61 Tamil children, 3 instructors and wounding more than 100 other children, to which no one has been held accountable for till this day.
In 2006, Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director said, “These children are innocent victims of violence […] we call on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and ensure children and the places where they live, study and play are protected from harm.”
Despite a decade since the end of Sri Lanka’s armed conflict, and 14 years since UNICEFs original statement there has been no accountability for the deaths of the children and teachers. The Sri Lankan government has not prosecuted a single perpetrator in this massacre against children.
Read the full press release here.