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Last updated: 16 January, 2005 - Published 16:58 GMT
 
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Children struggling to cope
 
Boy reunited (UNICEF photo)
An orphan reunited with relatives by UNICEF
Three weeks after the devastating tsunami, Sri Lanka - along with other affected countries -is struggling to cope with the impact of the disaster on children, international aid agencies said.

Many children, those who lived through it and those who lost family members, are still in the dire need of counselling, aid agency PLAN said.

Although some children seem to be making progress, some are withdrawn and not playing with the others, Amanda Barnes of PLAN told the BBC.

She has just returned from Sri Lanka where she visited areas affected by the tsunami including Hambantota and Tangalle.

 Some children are joining in, seem to be fairly normal and happy but behind the mask there is a very traumatised and affected child
 
Amanda Barnes

“In other cases the children are joining in, seem to be fairly normal and happy but behind the mask there is a very traumatised and affected child. So we think it will take some time before they can recover. “

PLAN, which focuses on the needs of children is planning to put into place some psycho-social counselling for the children, she said.

“Mostly the thing we've found effective through our experience in Sierra Leone is asking children to draw a picture of what they've seen and what their experience is.”

The number of those killed across the region by the giant waves now stands at more than a hundred and seventy thousand.

Nearly thirty one thousand people died in Sri Lanka. Up to a million were made homeless.

 
 
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