Speaking to ABC Australia, UNICEF spokesman Bismarck Swangin issued an urgent appeal warning that families in Sri Lanka are being pushed to the brink by the current crisis.
“About one year ago I was working with UNICEF in Yemen, I’ve been in Somalia, I’ve been in South Sudan but this is a crisis like no other,” he told ABC Australia. According to a UNICEF study, he notes, 7 out of 10 families have reported that they will need to cut back on food and turn to lower quality food as well.
Sri Lanka is the 7th most malnourished country in the world and 2nd in the region Swangin reported. He stressed that urgent action is needed to avoid the worst-case scenario.
The crisis in Sri Lanka has created has prevented children from accessing basic necessities with Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health issuing a list of 25 essential medicines which they will run out in the next one to two months.
Swangin also noted that children are unable to go to school as school runs don’t have fuel and the cost of school meals has more than doubled.
UNICEF is calling for urgent action to support the immediate need of children, those malnourished, to provide clean water, and to provide pregnant women with nutritious diets to avoid malnutrition of mothers, he added.
Australian authorities stop a boat of asylum seekers.
Commenting on the increase of Sri Lankan asylum seekers in Australia, Swangin stressed that the crisis has forced “people into desperate measures”. Despite this Australia’s newly elected Prime Minister has doubled down on an asylum policy of not allowing any arrivals by boat to settle in the country. This comes as authorities intercepted a third boat of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka since his election last month.
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