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Sri Lanka’s devastating humanitarian catastrophe for children serves as a “warning tale” for the rest of South Asia

WorldSri Lanka's devastating humanitarian catastrophe for children serves as a "warning tale" for the rest of South Asia

As the island country continues to experience its worst economic downturn since it gained its independence, George Laryea-Adjei, the Regional Director for UNICEF in South Asia, issued a warning that staple meals have become costly.

In a statement that was released on Friday, Laryea-Adjei also pointed out that the severe malnutrition rate in crisis-stricken Sri Lanka was already among the highest in the region. The warning comes from the United Nations Children’s Fund at a time when families are continuing to go without regular meals because basic meals are becoming costly.

He went on to say that widespread food insecurity would only serve to further exacerbate issues of undernourishment, poverty, sickness, and mortality in the region.

The nation’s already-existing socioeconomic problems have been made worse by the emergence of a new food insecurity. According to estimates provided by the United Nations, about half of the country’s young people are already in need of urgent assistance.

The economic crisis has had a negative impact on the education industry, which has suffered from declining student enrolment and a shortage of resources, in addition to hazardous commutes caused by deteriorating infrastructure. The additional information that was disclosed by Laryea-Adjei was that “claims are already appearing of an upsurge in abuse, exploitation, and violence against minors owing to the rising economic strain.”

In a similar vein, there are now more than 10,000 children and adolescents residing in Sri Lanka who are being cared for in institutional settings. This is mostly due to the effects of poverty. These organisations do not provide the essential assistance from families that is necessary for the development of children and is not provided by these organisations.

Unfortunately, the current economic crisis is compelling an increasing number of parents to place their children in institutional care because they are unable to provide for the needs of their children themselves. “If the present trend continues, hard-earned gains for children in Sri Lanka is at danger of being reversed, and in some instances, lost forever,” Laryea-Adjei added.

Several different UN agencies have been responsible for the distribution of educational supplies, the provision of meals to pre-school-aged children, and the transfer of money to nursing and pregnant women. However, the current economic crisis has shown the weakness that lies at the coronary heart of Sri Lanka’s social infrastructure, and he is renowned for saying so.

Laryea-Adjei said, “Children need to be placed squarely at the heart of the solution as the country works to resolve the crisis.” This statement was made while Laryea-Adjei was reflecting further on the actions that UNICEF ought to take to assist Sri Lankan children who have been affected by the ongoing financial crisis.

Women and boys of all ages should be able to continue their educations without interruption so that they may plan for their futures and be protected from the dangers of child labour, exploitation, and abuse based on gender. In order to protect women and children from life-threatening diseases and malnutrition, primary and primary care services need to be given top priority.

If immediate action is not taken to protect children against the worst effects of the global economic downturn, vulnerable children will be thrown deeper into poverty, and their health, nutrition, learning, and safety will be compromised. If immediate action is not taken, vulnerable children will be further plunged into poverty.

As a result, the international community need to make it one of its top priorities to invest in the resilience of local communities as a defence mechanism against crises. According to UNICEF, the emergency situation in Sri Lanka should serve as a warning to other South Asian nations about the dangers of failing to adequately prepare for economic difficulties.

The conclusion that Laryea-Adjei came to was that “we can not let young people bear the price for problems that are not of their creation.” Now is the moment for us to take action to ensure that their futures are secure.

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