SRI LANKA: Second-highest in child malnutrition in South Asia, says UNICEF

A Statement from News 1st forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

COLOMBO (News 1st); The Spokesperson for UNICEF Sri Lanka, Bismarck Swangin states that Sri Lanka’s economic crisis is a children’s crisis, with 1.7 children in the country having to bear the brunt of the crisis.

Speaking to ABC Australia, the UNICEF representative said that while Sri Lanka had one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in South Asia, the economic crisis has only exacerbated the child malnutrition crisis.

According to the UNICEF, 7 out of 10 families are cutting down their food intake to mitigate the crisis, Swangin said. Accordingly, those who were having three meals had decreased to two, while those who were eating two meals had declined it to one.

The UNICEF recently launched an appeal for $25 million to provide humanitarian aid to 1.7 million children in Sri Lanka, which the UNICEF points out are at risk of dying from malnutrition-related causes.

While Sri Lanka has the second-highest rate of acute malnutrition among children under 5 in South Asia, at least 17% of children are suffering from chronic wasting, a disease that carries the highest risk of death.

The quality of the food has recorded a severe decrease as will, he said.

While Sri Lanka has not had favorable numbers with regard to its standing on malnutrition, the current economic crisis will only make it worse, the UNICEF representative said that families are pushing their limits, with children not being able to access their basic rights due to the country’s inability to import essentials such as fuel.

Speaking further, Swangin said that the crisis had affected schoolchildren the most, with them being unable to go to school due to the rise in fuel prices, and being at the risk of starving due to the prices of school meals being doubled, which was a major incentive for children to go to school.

Emphasizing on the UNICEF appeal launched, the Spokesperson said that they are aiming to treat children who are severely malnourished, to provide communities with water, to provide pregnant mother with nutritious diets and supplements, to grant mental health support to children and to grant support to avoid a worst-case scenario.

Swangin commented on the illegal Sri Lankan migrants who were captured in their efforts to go to Australia by boat. He pointed out that the people are getting increasingly desperate, and are resolving to coping mechanisms, such as selling assets or pawning jewelry.
Pointing out that he worked with Somalia, Yemen and Sudan, the UNICEF spokesperson said that this is a crisis like none other.

The views shared in this statement do not necessarily reflect that of the AHRC.

Document Type : Forwarded Statement
Document ID : AHRC-FST-003-2022
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Child rights, Right to food, Right to health, Right to life,