Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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International Red Cross says 5.7 Sri Lankans need humanitarian assistance

At least 5.7 million people, or 26 per cent of the population in Sri Lanka require humanitarian assistance, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a report.

The report warned that without immediate humanitarian assistance, and ‘upstream’ interventions to address the fragility of systems, services and facilities, this number will multiply, and the consequences will deepen.

Food security and livelihoods have suffered directly because of the economic crisis, while access and availability of basic services such as education and healthcare, including hospital maternity care, and sexual and reproductive health services have been disrupted.

Notably, in addition to the impact on education, child protection risks have risen. A serious decline in domestic agricultural output brought on by an unsuccessful agricultural transition to organic farming has deepened the crisis.

Unless critically damaged systems, services and facilities (crucially, the agriculture and fishing, health and social care, and education sectors) are urgently restored, it is likely that those who are already vulnerable will be pushed further down a pathway towards destitution.

Householders and families across the country are already employing negative coping strategies, such as reducing meals, postponing medical care, taking children out of school and employing children to provide income, and depleting and selling their assets.

People are now more often becoming the victims or perpetrators of crime and theft, people are migrating in search of employment, human trafficking is said to have increased, and families are breaking up.

At the community and family level, the macroeconomic collapse in Sri Lanka has translated into a complex humanitarian emergency, as millions of people are increasingly suffering, with severe shortages of food, fuel, cooking gas, medicine and other essentials

The assessment found that household purchasing power is constrained by food inflation and that disruptions to livelihoods and food insecurity have increased, raising worries about malnutrition.

People are suffering from poorer health because the healthcare system has become compromised. Household economic stresses have resulted in rising concerns over basic needs and protection for the most vulnerable (such as those already living below the poverty line, people with disability, and marginalized people).

The assessment report includes an analysis and recommendations based on a face-to-face household-level survey of 2,871 respondents in 11 districts across nine provinces, a separate case study of 300 households from 10 estates in Nuwara Eliya, 24 focus group discussions (FGDs), 15 key informant interviews (KIIs), and an anticipatory analysis, framed by extensive secondary data.

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