UN warns of worsening food crisis in Sri Lanka

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COLOMBO: The United Nations warned on Tuesday of a worsening food crisis in bankrupt Sri Lanka and said the number of people in urgent need of humanitarian aid had doubled to 3.4 million.
UN agencies had estimated in June that 1.7 million of Sri Lanka’s 22 million people needed help.
UN agencies in Colombo said in a joint statement that they had raised $79 million to feed the needy, but the growing number of poor people meant they needed an additional $70 million.
“Food insecurity in Sri Lanka has increased dramatically due to two consecutive seasons of poor harvests, foreign exchange shortages and reduced household purchasing power,” the statement said.
Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948 and has been enduring runaway inflation, power cuts and fuel rationing since last year.
The country defaulted on its $51bn foreign debt in mid-April and is in talks with the IMF for a $2.9bn bailout.
Months of protests against high prices and shortages of food and medicine led to the ouster of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in July.
The UN said its revised plan aims to feed 2.1 million people, including pregnant mothers and school children, and provide livelihood support for 1.5 million farmers and fishermen.
He also said the poverty rate in the South Asian nation has doubled to 25.6 percent this year, up from 13.1 percent last year.

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