UN calls for $47 million for life-saving aid to 1.7 million people – Global Issues

In response to the country’s request for UN-backed international aid, the Organization and other partners launched a Joint Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan (HNP) to help 1.7 million people most affected by the economic crisis. .

It covers the period from June to September this year and aims to address the most pressing needs – with a particular focus on healthcare and essential medicines, food and agriculture, including targeted nutrition services, safe drinking water; emergency livelihood; and protection.

Help with planning

Development and humanitarian partners in Sri Lanka estimate that nearly 5.7 million civilians are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance, in 25 districts across the country.

The 1.7 million people covered by the HNP are among those whose livelihoods, food security and access to health services are most at risk.

UN Coordinator for residents in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, emphasized the urgent need to avert a humanitarian crisis later in the year while bridging efforts towards more long-term development needs.

Sri Lanka’s once strong healthcare system is now at risk, livelihoods suffer and the most vulnerable are most impactedsaid pointed out.

worst crisis

Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.

Persistent budget deficits, a significant package of tax cuts in 2019 and the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic have made Sri Lanka’s public debt burden unsustainable, while the collapse of tourism has caused foreign exchange receipts to plummet.

This, coupled with the food and energy price shocks earlier this year – exacerbated by the war in Ukraine – has led to a debt and balance of payments crisis, according to the UN humanitarian agency, OCHA.

Last month, food inflation was 57.4 percent, while shortages of other key items, including fuel for cooking, transportation and industry, remain rife.

In March, the government had to declare daily power cuts due to the unavailability of imported fuel, and surveys show that about 11 percent of households said they had no income at all, while 62 percent said it had been cut, lowering money. available for food.

Now is the time for the international community to show solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka – UN Resident Coordinator

At the same time, the currency has depreciated by 80 percent since March, causing foreign reserves to continue to fall, further damaging the economy.

“Now is the time for the international community to show solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka,” said the Resident Coordinator.

Crippling Effects

The economic crisis has taken a heavy toll on food security, agriculture, employment and access to essential health services.

Food production in the last harvest season was 40 to 50 percent lower than last year, and current seed and fertilizer shortages, as well as a lack of credit for food producers, threaten the next production cycle.

Prices have risen significantly since late 2021, forcing families to resort to skipping meals, eating less expensive foods or limiting portion sizes.

Nearly 22 percent of the population needs food aid

“Multiple factors affect Sri Lanka’s food security situation. If we don’t act now, many families will not be able to meet their basic food needs,” says Singer-Hamdy.

© WFP

Development and humanitarian partners in Sri Lanka estimate that nearly 5.7 million women, children and men are in immediate need of life-saving assistance.

Health services suffer

Hundreds of essential drugs are out of stock, as are more than 2,700 surgical items and some 250 different lab essentials.

Meanwhile, power outages and a lack of generator fuel have forced many hospitals to postpone routine and non-emergency surgeries.

“The UN and humanitarian partners are calling on donors, the private sector and individuals to urgently support this plan to provide life-saving assistance to the women, men and children most affected by the crisis, thus addressing a worsening humanitarian needs in the country,” said Mrs. Singer-Hamdy.

lifelines cut

The ongoing crisis has also limited government supportaccording to the World Food Program (WFP).

By suspending national social safety net programs, women and children have lost this vital lifeline.

And disruptions in the school meal program — one of the largest safety nets in the country — restricts nutritious meals to 25 percent of schoolchildren.

In addition, the ‘Thriposha’ nutritional support program for pregnant women and young children has also been scrapped. Combined with loss of income, this can lead to higher malnutrition rates for women and their children.

Step up help

WFP said Thursday it will support the resumption of the Thriposha feeding program and provide out-of-pocket assistance to enrolled or waiting-listed households in the national social safety net programs — giving priority to children, women and people with disabilities.

The UN agency will also provide food to children enrolled in the national school meal program, where cuts have been made due to government fiscal restrictions.

Meanwhile, the WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are preparing crop and food security assessments to help authorities better understand the impact of the economic crisis and help plan an adequate response.

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