Colombo, June 21 (PTI): Australia has announced that it will provide 50 million dollars to crisis-hit Sri Lanka to meet urgent food and health care needs and support the economic recovery. Visiting Australian Minister of Home Affairs Clare O'Neil met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday.
We will contribute an immediate 22 million dollars to the World Food Programme for emergency food assistance to help three million people in Sri Lanka meet their daily nutritional needs. Australia will also provide 23 million dollars in development assistance to Sri Lanka in 2022-23," a statement said.
It will support health services and economic recovery with a strong emphasis on protecting those at risk, especially women and girls, the statement said. "These contributions are in addition to 5 million dollars recently provided to United Nations agencies for Sri Lanka, the statement said.
Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong in Canberra said, "Australia has a close and long-standing relationship 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."
The island nation, home to around 22 million people, is currently facing its worst economic crisis in more than 70 years. Sri Lanka's economy is experiencing extreme fuel shortages, soaring food prices and a lack of medicines.
Sri Lanka defaulted on its debt for the first time in its history as the country struggles with its worst financial crisis in more than 70 years. Sri Lanka is seeking to restructure debts of more than USD 50 billion it owes to foreign creditors, to make it more manageable to repay.