Children at risk in post-tsunami chaos

Children caught up in the devastation from the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi, Indonesia, are at risk of serious trauma and vulnerable to exploitation, World Vision Australia chief advocate Tim Costello warned from the disaster zone.

The international humanitarian organisation is calling for urgent child protection measures to be put in place to avoid a repeat of post-2004 tsunami when predators preyed on vulnerable children.

 “On top of the devastation of the previous earthquake and tsunami in 2004, it was sickening to hear that children – many who were orphaned or separated from their parents – went on to become victims of human traffickers,” Mr Costello said.

 “Through years of experience working in humanitarian emergencies, we know natural disasters like this put children at grave risk. They face the dangers of trafficking, child marriage and exploitation, and those risks escalate greatly if a child becomes separated from their family.”

 His warning comes as the organisation launched an appeal this week calling for Australians to donate to those in the area, many of whom have lost everything. Online donations can be made at

 Mr Costello is in Sulawesi visiting some of the worst-affected areas of the tsunami-devastated island.

 “There must be a strict monitoring system to ensure children are not relocated out of the area. We can’t have this happening again,” he said.

 “Children are prone to exploitation in this chaotic environment. We must be prepared so they are not harmed further out of this disaster.”

“It’s utterly heartbreaking to hear the death toll is rising and will continue to rise. The situation is dire for survivors who desperately need food, water and medical assistance. Many people are still buried under rubble and entire communities remain cut off because of the devastation”

“Our hearts go out to families who are impacted by this terrible tragedy. Children have been separated from their parents, while some of our staff members are also searching for their missing loved ones.”

World Vision has teams on the ground already providing drinking water, assessing shelter needs and organising safe spaces for children to play.

Australians are invited to donate to World Vision Australia's appeal to raise desperately-needed money to help the people affected by the earthquake and tsunami. They can donate through 

For more information or for interview with Tim Costello, contact:

Brianna Piazza (Emergency Comms Officer, who is on the ground with Tm Costello), +61 408 624 934, +62 82 194 575 836

If you are unable to contact Bri, please call:

Ruth Lamperd (News Editor) 0417 765 947

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