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ECONOMYNEXT – The United Nations (UN) in Sri Lanka and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have revised and extended a joint Humanitarian Needs and Priorities (HNP) plan that aims to provide life-saving assistance to 3.4 million Sri Lankans, a UN statement said.

The HNP’s revision extends the plan through 2022 and requires 70 million US dollars in additional funds to reach a total of 149.7 million dollars, the statement released on Tuesday November 08 said.

“We are immensely appreciative of the solidarity the international community has shown with the people of Sri Lanka, including through their generous contributions to the HNP. This solidarity must be sustained if we are to insulate the most at-risk people from the impacts of the ongoing crisis,” said UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy.

Sri Lanka is going through its worst currency crisis since the inception of the country’s central bank, with high inflation and shortages hitting the hapless public hard, particularly in the more vulnerable sections of the populace.

The UN statement said that, since June, the HNP has been responding to the government’s request for UN-backed multi-sector support for Sri Lanka’s debt and food and medicine shortages.

The HNP — aligned with appeals from other UN agencies — has raised 79 million US dollars for Sri Lanka with support from various countries, charities and private individuals and organisations based in and out of Sri Lanka.

The statement said that governments and donor agencies have helped the humanitarian community reach over 1 million of the country’s most vulnerable people with cash, food, school meals, medicine, protection, and livelihood support.

According to the UN, food insecurity in Sri Lanka has increased dramatically due to two consecutive seasons of poor harvests, foreign exchange shortages, and reduced household purchasing power.

“With a poor harvest season forecast for 2023 and food inflation of 85.6 per cent in October 2022, many Sri Lankans are struggling. Twenty-eight per cent of the population—or 6.3 million people—face moderate-to-severe acute food insecurity. According to the World Bank’s 2022 Development Update, the poverty rate rose from 13.1 percent to 25.6 percent between 2021 and 2022,” the statement said.

The revised HNP complements existing emergency operations carried out by the UN and humanitarian partners. Among its targets are immediate food assistance for 2.4 million vulnerable and food-insecure people; provision of support and fertilizers for 1.5 million farmers and fishers to revive food systems that have been severely disrupted.

“The appeal also seeks to provide nutrition support for 2.1 million people, including pregnant women and schoolchildren; safe drinking water for over 900,000 people; and essential medicines and healthcare, including sexual and reproductive healthcare, for 867,000 people. It will enable protection services to continue for vulnerable women and children at risk of violence,” the statement said. (Colombo/Nov09/2022)

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