UNICEF says its revised Humanitarian Needs and Priorities (HNP) plan has estimated that 7 million people in Sri Lanka are in need of humanitarian assistance due to the economic crisis.
In its latest situation report on Sri Lanka’s economic crisis (for the period from January 01, 2022, to December 31, 2022), UNICEF noted that essential services for children such as health, nutrition, and education have been severely impacted by shortages of medicine, food insecurity, lack of fuel and long power cuts.
In June 2022, UN agencies had estimated that 1.7 million out of the 22 million population in the country required help. Later in November 2022, this figure doubled to 3.4 million.
Since June last year, the UN team in Sri Lanka and NGOs have used the HNP to respond to the Sri Lankan government’s request for more support to alleviate the impact of the country’s debt and food crisis, and shortages of medicines.
Generous contributions from bilateral, public and private donors have helped the humanitarian community reach over one million of the country’s most vulnerable with cash, food, school meals, medicine, protection, and livelihood support.
According to the report, UNICEF has reached over 1.3 million people, including 750,000 children with humanitarian assistance in 2022 through humanitarian interventions during this period.
“Through UNICEF interventions, over 800,000 people in urban areas have access to safe drinking water, 285,403 children in rural and estate areas were provided with educational materials, and 205,000 adolescents benefitted from mental health and psychosocial support services in communities and in schools. UNICEF piloted humanitarian cash transfers reached 3,010 mothers with young children for three months in Colombo municipal area in 2022, which is being further scaled up to reach 110,000 mothers/caregivers in 2023.”
The UNICEF says it had appealed for USD 25 million to provide timely life-saving humanitarian services to nearly 2.8 million people, including 1.7 million children affected by the crisis situation.
Of the USD 25 million funding ask, UNICEF has received USD 34 million, the UN agency said highlighting the uneven distribution of funding received.
Some sectors, notably education and child protection, remain significantly underfunded, while others (nutrition and social protection) have received triple the ask. “This situation highlights the need for fresh funding into 2023, particularly for the underfunded sectors.”
On June 10, 2022, aligned with the UN inter-agency HNP appeal for Sri Lanka, the UNICEF Sri Lanka Country Office launched its Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC), receiving generous contributions from bilateral, public and private donors such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, USAID, the Central Emergency Response Fund, UNICEF USA, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (UK) and Global Thematic Humanitarian Funds.
The UNICEF report says the need for continued funding to sustain prevailing humanitarian needs post-HNP is critical although the HNP expired in December 2022.