Norway concerned about crisis in Sri Lanka: Norwegian Foreign Minister

Norway is concerned about the food and nutrition crisis witnessed in Sri Lanka, Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt said.

‘I am concerned about the food and nutrition crisis we are now witnessing in Sri Lanka. The grave humanitarian situation has a severe impact on women and children. Norway is providing NOK 13 million to address the acute needs,’ she said.

She said unless rapid action is taken, the situation could become even worse in the coming months.

‘Norway’s allocation of NOK 13 million will address the acute need for food, nutrition and protection in Sri Lanka. The support will be channeled through the UN and targeted towards food security and protection efforts,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.

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. The Sri Lankan people are contending with extreme price increases for basic items such as rice and wheat, and a lack of fuel and medicine. The fuel shortage is making it difficult for food to reach markets. Even before the current crisis, Sri Lanka had one of the world’s highest percentages of malnourished children.

Children and pregnant/lactating women are being especially hard hit by the food and nutrition crisis. Furthermore, women and children are increasingly vulnerable to abuse and sexual and gender-based violence. In light of this, the UN has developed a humanitarian response plan.

Norway will provide NOK 5 million to the World Food Programme (WFP), targeted towards vulnerable groups. Additionally, NOK 5 million and NOK 3 million will be provided to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), respectively, for their work to protect children and women.

Norway gives priority to combating sexual and gender-based violence and providing protection for children, and these efforts are sorely needed in Sri Lanka. The support provided by Norway will be taken from the humanitarian reserve, which has been set aside to make it possible to respond rapidly to new acute crises or underfunded crises, as the need arises throughout the year,” a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry of Norway said.