Brand New Danger
This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," January 4, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: The hunt is on for a 12-year-old Swedish boy who was last spotted leaving a hospital after the tsunami hit. Kristian Walker (search) was last seen with an unknown German man at a hospital near the resort of Kao Lak. A boy matching Christian's description was seen with the man, but the child has since vanished, seemingly without a trace. His American grandfather and his father are involved in a desperate search to find the missing child.
Now let's go to Colombo, Sri Lanka (search), where UNICEF's Ted Chaiban joins us by the phone. Ted, is there any way to estimate how many children have been orphaned (search) by the tsunami?
TED CHAIBAN, UNICEF: Well, surveys are under way. We're currently, in the case of Sri Lanka, I think also in Indonesia and the other countries in the region, doing surveys of displaced persons camps and trying to identify unaccompanied children and children that have been orphaned by the crisis. And the purpose really is to register them and try to trace extended family members so that they're freed and avoid any kind of exploitation or abuse. But we don't have the numbers right now. The surveys should be delivering the results within the next week or so.
VAN SUSTEREN: Can you give me just a ballpark figure, I mean, a wild guess? Is it tens or hundreds or thousands? I mean, any idea?
CHAIBAN: You know, it would be really unfair to speculate. I think what's clear is that this has been a tragedy. There will be a number of orphans. If I were to hazard a range for Sri Lanka, it would be in the hundreds, several hundred. But many will have extended family members. Many will have some kind of family left that can care for them, if we can identify them and trace those family members and reunite those children with those family members, which is what we're working on.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is exploitation a realistic problem?
CHAIBAN: Absolutely. I mean, exploitation occurs in all societies. And when you have situations of displacement and trauma, as you do in Sri Lanka, it increases the opportunity for the exploitation of children that are unaccompanied, children that don't have their family with them, don't have their caregivers. And so we do have to move quickly to make sure that children that have already been deeply affected by the natural disaster aren't prey to any further kind of exploitation, whether sexual or physical or being taken in to be used as child labor.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any idea whether this is going to be a bigger problem, exploitation, in Sri Lanka, where you are, or perhaps even Thailand or Indonesia?
CHAIBAN: I think it's a question of scale in different countries, and it depends on the areas affected. Again, all societies around the world have child abuse. All societies have a problem with children that are unprotected facing abuse. What's important is that we put the systems in place to identify those children that are at risk, those specifically that are unaccompanied or aren't with family members, and try to trace their families and reunite them with family members or try to find fostering arrangements that are appropriate and legal and insure a loving environment for the child.
VAN SUSTEREN: We only have about 20 seconds left. Are you getting the resources that you need to help these children?
CHAIBAN: We are getting some very generous contributions, the initial financial resources that are required. But this really is a long haul. We're looking at a process of rehabilitation and reconstruction that's going to take 12 to 18 months. The outpouring both here in Sri Lanka and internationally has been incredible, and it's starting to make a real difference.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Ted, thank you very much.
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