Located at the very northern tip of Sri Lanka on the peninsula which bears its name, Jaffna is the capital of Sri Lanka's Northern Province.
Many residents were forced from their homes during Sri Lanka's long civil war. Today, some are returning to the city, where reconstruction work has begun, although many are unlikely ever to come home. We established an SOS Children's Village in Jaffna to provide a home for children left alone by the war.
Ongoing conflict creates a humanitarian crisis
Jaffna was heavily affected by the civil war, which raged between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – more commonly known as the Tamil Tigers – from the early 1980s until May 2009. The root of the conflict was the Tamil Tigers' desire for an independent Tamil state.
The latter stages of the conflict were particularly bloody, with more than 350,000 civilians trapped inside the warzone. The government set up a safe zone to allow people caught up in the fighting to escape to calmer areas. However, many civilian casualties ensued as the violence came to a head. When the government finally claimed victory, more than 300,000 people were left displaced.
Providing shelter for children orphaned by war
Most of the refugees were moved to camps in Vavuniya district, allegedly against their will. Many of them were unaccompanied children, orphaned or separated from their parents in the chaos. We offered shelter to 235 of the most vulnerable.
We were able to reunite 155 of these children with their families. For those unable to return to their parents, we began work on a new SOS Children's Village in Jaffna, which opened in August 2013. Each child belongs to an SOS family, brought up with their brothers and sisters in the care of an SOS mother. Our child development experts spend time with every child, developing a unique care plan specially tailored to their individual needs.
As well as care for every child, we offer education and play to youngsters from the Village and children from the surrounding community at an SOS nursery. Across two classrooms, up to 50 young learners begin their educational journey in the care of the best teachers, enjoying playtime in the specially landscaped grounds, which offer maximum shade in this hot and sunny climate.
Helping families recover from war
The Children's Village is only one part of the work we are doing to help Sri Lanka's most vulnerable families recover from over two-and-a-half decades of war. We are also helping local people with the post-war reconstruction effort, rebuilding homes, hospitals and schools throughout the district. We also provide care in four other locations across the island, including in Colombo, the capital.
War has left children without parents and families without homes. By sponsoring a child in Sri Lanka, you can help the most vulnerable children benefit from the best start.