More than seven weeks after a tsunami smashed into Indonesia's Aceh province, as many as 10,000 children may be seeking lost parents, according to the United Nations and other agencies. Aid officials from four agencies, including Save the Children and UNICEF, have generated a database, containing the names of children who have been separated from one or both parents. And now those efforts have helped at least one couple find their infant son.
The tsunami killed more than 240,000 people in Aceh province alone, and left another 400,000 homeless. UNICEF says of the 700 children in refugee camps who have registered as having lost their parents, as many as 60 are without any support from an adult they knew before the disaster.
"We think this will offer more hope, and also make it easier," said Mike Kieranan, who is with the U.S.-based charity, Save the Children. "Parents come to this agency and other agencies almost every day seeing if there is a new list up."
There was good news for a Sri Lankan couple that lost their infant son in the tsunami. Jenita and Murugupillai Jeyarajah were reunited with their 3-month-old boy Tuesday at a hospital in Kulmanai. DNA tests confirmed he was their son, after eight other couples claimed to be his parents. The little boy was dubbed "Baby 81," because he was the 81st patient admitted to the hospital on the day of the tsunami.
In the meantime, thousands of parents and relatives still hoping to receive good news are constantly checking updated lists of children. The Indonesian government has placed a moratorium on adoptions, to discourage child trafficking. Children under age 16 are not allowed to leave the country without a parent.