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UNICEF: Lanka has second-highest in child malnutrition in South Asia

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The Spokesperson for UNICEF Sri Lanka, Bismarck Swangin states that Sri Lanka’s economic crisis is a children’s crisis, with 1.7 children in the country having to bear the brunt of the crisis.

Speaking to ABC Australia, the UNICEF representative said that while Sri Lanka had one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in South Asia, the economic crisis has only exacerbated the child malnutrition crisis.

According to the UNICEF, 7 out of 10 families are cutting down their food intake to mitigate the crisis, Swangin said. Accordingly, those who were having three meals had decreased to two, while those who were eating two meals had declined it to one.The UNICEF recently launched an appeal for $25 million to provide humanitarian aid to 1.7 million children in Sri Lanka, which the UNICEF points out are at risk of dying from malnutrition-related causes.

While Sri Lanka has the second-highest rate of acute malnutrition among children under 5 in South Asia, at least 17% of children are suffering from chronic wasting, a disease that carries the highest risk of death.The quality of the food has recorded a severe decrease as will, he said. While Sri Lanka has not had favorable numbers with regard to its standing on malnutrition, the current economic crisis will only make it worse, the UNICEF representative said that families are pushing their limits, with children not being able to access their basic rights due to the country’s inability to import essentials such as fuel.

Speaking further, Swangin said that the crisis had affected schoolchildren the most, with them being unable to go to school due to the rise in fuel prices, and being at the risk of starving due to the prices of school meals being doubled, which was a major incentive for children to go to school.

Emphasizing on the UNICEF appeal launched, the Spokesperson said that they are aiming to treat children who are severely malnourished, to provide communities with water, to provide pregnant mother with nutritious diets and supplements, to grant mental health support to children and to grant support to avoid a worst-case scenario.Swangin commented on the illegal Sri Lankan migrants who were captured in their efforts to go to Australia by boat. He pointed out that the people are getting increasingly desperate, and are resolving to coping mechanisms, such as selling assets or pawning jewelry. Pointing out that he worked with Somalia, Yemen and Sudan, the UNICEF spokesperson said that this is a crisis like none other.



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President orders probe into notification issued by Department of Immigration and Emigration

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It has been reported that President Wickremesinghe ordered an investigation into the notification issued by the Department of Immigration and Emigration requesting all  Russian and Ukrainian tourists to leave the country within 14 days.

According to the President’s Media Division (PMD), the relevant notification was issued without prior approval from the Cabinet of Ministers.

The decision had reportedly been taken as certain foreign tourists are running illegal businesses in the country.

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Contentious Chinese research vessel docks in Maldives

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Xiang Yang Hong 03 has previously visited Indian Ocean on several other occasions

A contentious Chinese research ship reached the Maldives on Thursday in the latest sign of the archipelago’s diplomatic reorientation towards Beijing and away from its traditional benefactor India.

Local residents said they had spotted China’s Xiang Yang Hong 3 at the Thilafushi industrial port near the capital Male.The 100-metre-long (328-foot) vessel was at an anchorage near Male on Thursday evening, according to the website Marinetraffic.

The Maldives’ pro-Beijing government said earlier the vessel was docking for a port call to rotate crew and take on supplies, on the condition that it would not conduct “research” while in its territorial waters.

Media reports in India had suggested that the vessel was conducting surveillance for Beijing.

India is suspicious of China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean and its influence in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which are strategically placed halfway along key east-west international shipping routes.Relations between Male and New Delhi have chilled since pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu won elections last year.

Muizzu has asked India to withdraw 89 security personnel based in the Maldives to operate reconnaissance aircraft by March 15.But the president has also insisted he does not want to upend ties with New Delhi by replacing Indian troops with Chinese forces.

Sri Lanka refused entry to Xiang Yang Hong 3 after two other port calls from Chinese vessels since 2022 raised objections from India.That included the ship Yuan Wang 5, which specializes in spacecraft tracking and which New Delhi described as a spy ship. (AFP)

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MP Harsha in Australia as “Special visitor”

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Harsha de Silva

Opposition MP and Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance (COPF) Harsha de Silva is currently in Australia as a special visitor.

Taking to ‘X’, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP said he had embarked on a nine-day visit on an invitation extended by the Government of Australia.

“My engagements with policymakers, academics, scientists and investment managers began in Melbourne and will continue in Adelaide and then public officials and politicians in Canberra,” he added.

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