Australia’s Home and Cyber Security Minister Clare O’Neil, arrived in Sri Lanka yesterday (20) to discuss how to prevent transitional crimes and boat people entering Australia in light of 350 Sri Lankans attempting to leave for Australia between January 2022 and 15 June, 2022.
The Australian Government also noted that they would offer Official Development Assistance of AUD 50 million to assist Sri Lanka in meeting urgent food and healthcare needs.
She and the Sri Lankan partners discussed on how Australia can deepen cooperation and assist Sri Lanka as the country faces difficult economic times, as well as strengthening engagement on transnational crime, including people smuggling.
She met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister G. L. Peiris yesterday. The visit follows a phone call between Minister Peiris and Minister O’Neil early last week and coincides with the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Australia.
Australia said Sri Lanka currently faces its worst economic crisis in 70 years, leading to shortages of food, medicine and fuel and has a close and long-standing relations with Sri Lanka. “Not only do we want to help the people of Sri Lanka in its time of need, there are also deeper consequences for the region if this crisis continues”, she added.
“We will contribute an immediate AUD 22 million to the World Food Programme for emergency food assistance to help three million people in Sri Lanka meet their daily nutritional needs,” the Australian High Commission said yesterday (20).
Australia will also provide AUD 23 million in development assistance to Sri Lanka in 2022
-23 to support health services, and economic recovery, with a strong emphasis on protecting those at risk, especially women and girls. Recently another AUD5 million recently provided to United Nations agencies for Sri Lanka.