- Nine out of 10 Sri Lankans rely on handouts from the state because of the crisis.
- Sri Lankan President calls for unity government to save economy
- UNICEF issued an appeal for funding, saying that children in Sri Lanka are disproportionately affected.
Colombo: Sri Lanka on Monday issued an urgent appeal to tackle the rapidly spreading malnutrition among children as nine out of 10 people rely on government aid due to its economic crisis.
The Ministry of Women and Child Affairs said they were seeking private donations to feed the several lakh children who were wasted due to insufficient food.
The bankrupt state, battling Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis since independence, was unable to sustain welfare.
“When the Covid pandemic was at its peak, the problem was bad, but now, with the economic crisis, the situation is very bad,” Secretary Neil Bandara Hapuhine told reporters in Colombo.
Hapuhne said he counted 127,000 malnourished children out of 570,000 girls and boys under the age of five in mid-2021.
The President of Sri Lanka wants a unity government to save the economy.
Since then, he estimated that the numbers have multiplied with the full impact of extreme inflation and severe shortages of food and other essential commodities.
He said that in the last one year, the number of people directly receiving government assistance has almost doubled and more than 90% of the population is now dependent on the government for financial help.
Hapuhine said these include about 1.6 million government employees.
Sri Lanka’s inflation in July was officially measured at 60.8%, but private economists say it exceeds 100% and is second only to Zimbabwe.
UNICEF has also issued an appeal for funding, saying that children in Sri Lanka were disproportionately affected by the severe economic crisis.
The country ran out of foreign currency for essential imports late last year and Colombo defaulted on its $51 billion of foreign debt in mid-April.
The government under new President Ranil Wickremesinghe is now holding bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund.
The country’s 22 million people face prolonged power cuts, long queues for fuel and shortages of staple food and medicines, in a country that once had one of South Asia’s best social indicators.
Last month, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country and thousands of protesters angered by the economic crisis stormed his official residence.