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Protecting Children

The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:

The earthquake-induced tsunamis, or tidal waves, that struck Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and other nations along the Indian Ocean have taken a heavy toll on children. Approximately fifty-thousand young people died, and another million-and-a-half are believed to lack adequate food and shelter. Many are now orphans. Some may be placed for illegal adoption.

There are reports that children have been abused or are vulnerable to sex traffickers and other criminal elements. Adam Ereli, the U.S. State Department's deputy spokesman, praised the response of Asian governments:

"I would note and commend actions taken by governments in the tsunami-affected countries to alert the public about the danger of human trafficking and to work with police and community officials to detect and deter trafficking cases and to protect the victims."

Mr. Ereli says that the United States has advised nongovernmental organizations involved with disaster relief of the danger of human trafficking, especially the targeting of children:

"We are also engaging organizations with expertise in family reunification of children...and we are offering guidelines to officials and volunteers in the region designed to minimize the risk of human trafficking in and around camps where displaced and homeless are gathering."

Many of the displaced-person camps are dealing with the survivors' psychological, as well as physical needs, helping children cope with the trauma associated with the tsunami disaster. Relief workers say that the children may need special attention for years to come.