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Bankrupt Sri Lanka urgently seeks help to feed children

#Bankrupt #Sri #Lanka #urgently #seeks #feed #children

Sri Lanka on Monday issued an urgent appeal to tackle fast-spreading child malnutrition as nine out of ten people depend on government benefits due to the economic crisis.

The Department of Women and Children’s Affairs said it is seeking private donations to potentially feed several hundred thousand children who are missing out due to insufficient food.

The bankrupt state, grappling with Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis since independence, has been unable to sustain prosperity.

“When the Covid pandemic was at its peak the problem was bad, but now with the economic crisis the situation is much worse,” Secretary Neil Bandara Hapuhinne told reporters in Colombo.

Hapuhinne said they counted 127,000 malnourished children among the 570,000 girls and boys under five as of mid-2021.

He estimated the numbers have multiplied since then, with the full effects of rampant inflation and dire shortages of food and other essentials.

He said the number of people receiving direct government grants has nearly doubled in the past year, with over 90 percent of the population now dependent on government financial aid.

Hapuhinne said some 1.6 million were government employees.

Sri Lanka’s inflation was officially measured at 60.8 percent in July, but private economists say it is well over 100 percent, surpassed only by Zimbabwe.

UNICEF has also issued an appeal for donations stating that children in Sri Lanka have been disproportionately affected by the severe economic crisis.

The country ran out of foreign exchange to finance even essential imports late last year, and Colombo defaulted on its $51 billion external debt in mid-April.

Under the embattled new President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the government is now in rescue talks with the International Monetary Fund.

The country’s 22 million residents endure lengthy power outages, long queues for fuel, and shortages of basic necessities and medicines every day in a country that once boasted the best social indicators in South Asia.

Last month, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country and resigned after thousands of protesters, angry over the economic crisis, stormed his official residence.

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