UNICEF SL launches relief package

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UNICEF Sri Lanka launched a special relief package for pre-school children and mothers hardest hit by the current economic crisis in Sri Lanka. The initiative conducted in collaboration with the Colombo Municipal Council and Public Health midwives will provide much-needed relief to the urban poor and most disadvantaged families facing severe hardship and struggling to put food on their table.

“As food inflation and the price of basic commodities continues to increase, more and more families are struggling,” said UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative Emma Brigham.

“The lack of affordable nutritious food has a life-long impact on children, especially those in their early years of life. The programme being launched is an important step to bring some relief to food insecure families, but much more is urgently needed,” she added.

With food inflation rising over 80 per cent in June and continuing to increase, critical support in the form of regular monthly cash transfers of Rs. 5,000 is being provided to about 3,000 mothers with new-born babies in Colombo Municipal area as a way of bringing some relief to those who are food insecure, over the next three months. The mothers will also receive critical information on breastfeeding and nutrition for children.

UNICEF is also providing nutritious meals to over 40 public pre-schools and day-care centres, serving children from low-income families including those with special needs, for a period of six months. This incentive is focused on preventing acute malnutrition and promoting early learning as the crucial first step in a child’s development, in a country that has the second highest levels of wasting among children under five in the South Asia region.

In a situation that is fast becoming very desperate for children and families, UNICEF recently launched an urgent global appeal calling for much-needed support for Sri Lanka. If more funds become available, the preschool emergency relief package will be scaled up to reach over 200,000 preschool children and mothers with babies in districts with the highest levels of poverty and acute malnutrition.