The Norwegian government is providing NOK 13 million (approx. Rs 490 million) to the World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Sri Lanka to address food, nutrition and protection needs of the most vulnerable children and women.
Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt, in a statement issued from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, said “I am concerned about the food and nutrition crisis we are now witnessing in Sri Lanka. The grave humanitarian situation is having a severe impact on women and children.”
“Norway’s allocation of NOK 13 million will address the acute need for food, nutrition, and protection in Sri Lanka. The support will be channelled through the UN and targeted towards food security and protection efforts,” said Minister Huitfeldt.
Norwegian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Trine Jøranli Eskedal said that even before the current crisis, Sri Lanka had a significant percentage of malnourished children. The current economic crisis is having an adverse impact on the nutrition needs of pregnant and lactating women and children. In this challenging environment, women and children are also increasingly vulnerable to abuse and sexual and gender-based violence.
The UN fears that the situation could deteriorate due to failed harvests and the ongoing economic and political crisis in the country, and could evolve into a full-scale humanitarian crisis. Unless rapid action is taken, the situation could become even worse in the coming months. In light of this, the UN has developed a humanitarian response plan.
Norway will provide NOK 5 million to WFP, targeted towards vulnerable groups. Additionally, NOK 5 million and NOK 3 million will be provided to UNICEF and UNFPA, respectively, for their work to protect children and women. Norway gives priority to providing protection for children and combating sexual and gender-based violence. These efforts are sorely needed in Sri Lanka to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.
Commenting on the support, Abdurrahim Siddiqui Representative and Country Director for WFP in Sri Lanka said, “we are grateful to the Norwegian Government for extending a much-needed contribution to WFP’s ongoing response as millions are struggling to meet basic food needs. We need all the support and contribution that we can get to step up our efforts to stall a humanitarian crisis in the making.”
“The current crisis that Sri Lanka faces disproportionately affects children, including their access to education, protection, nutrition, health and water, sanitation and hygiene services. UNICEF’s teams are on the ground, responding to these urgent needs. This contribution from Norway is timely and will enable UNICEF reach more of the most vulnerable children and their families with the vital services they need,” said Emma Brigham, Acting Representative, UNICEF Sri Lanka.
Speaking on the need to prioritise sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence response services, Kunle Adeniyi, Representative for UNFPA Sri Lanka said, “the support received from theGovernment of Norway will help UNFPA ensure the most vulnerable women and girls including those at risk of gender-based violence are able to access critical health and protection services during the current crisis.”
Globally, Norway is a key partner and donor to the UN, including to WFP, UNICEF and UNFPA. The Government of Norway has a history of providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Sri Lanka in times of need, during emergencies such as tsunamis and floods. Norway is also providing continuous support to humanitarian mine clearing in Sri Lanka.