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World Bank approves USD 80.5 mn to help Sri Lanka to access Covid-19 vaccines

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The World Bank (WB) has recently approved $80.5 million additional financing to help Sri Lanka access and distribute fairly COVID-19 vaccines and to strengthen the country’s vaccination system and pandemic response.

This additional finance builds on the $217.56 million Sri Lanka COVID-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness Project, which was approved in April 2020, the WB said in a statement.

This new financing will help purchase vaccines to cover approximately 4 million people (18 percent of Sri Lanka’s population). In addition, it will cover the costs of deploying safe and effective vaccines to 20 percent of Sri Lanka’s population to meet the target of vaccinating at least 60 percent of its population. This additional financing will help implement the National Vaccine Deployment Plan of the Ministry of Health (MOH).

“Sri Lanka has demonstrated resilience in the implementation of its test, trace and treat pandemic management strategy, which has relied on its well-established public healthcare system,” said Faris. H. Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. “To recover from the pandemic-induced impacts, Sri Lanka needs sustainable financing mechanisms to further strengthen and equip its healthcare system to protect its population through improved vaccination programs and curative and preventive healthcare.”



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More heavy rain ahead for New Zealand’s largest city

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Auckland experienced an unprecedented amount of rainfall on Friday (picture BBC)

BBC reported that residents in flood-hit northern New Zealand are bracing for more heavy rains as officials issued severe weather alerts.

At least four people have died and a state of emergency was declared in Auckland, which on Friday experienced its worst downpour on record.

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Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled

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by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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Cardinal urges Catholics to fight for justice

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 By Norman Palihawadane

Today’s Church does not need ‘sacristy Catholics’ but a laity who fight for justice, says Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

Addressing a gathering at a ceremony to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Deva Dharma Nikethanaya, at Archbishop’s House auditorium, at Borella, last week, the Cardinal said that turning every layperson into a mature Christian, fit for leadership, should be the foremost duty of the Catholic Church. “Once the Catholic Church functioned as a Bishop-priest centered church and did only what the Bishop of the priest would say. We have to change the outlook of the Church. Today, we no longer need such sacristy Catholics. We need a laity who are ready to get down to the streets and fight for justice and do what is right for society,” the Cardinal said.

“The Church needs Christians who will commit themselves for Christ and follow his example. We do not need spoon-fed babies,” he said.

He said that the Bishops and Priests should not be afraid of handing over the responsibilities to the laity. “We should share our responsibilities with joy. The Church cannot continue otherwise. Understanding this situation, Pope Francis wants to change the priest-centres position that has become a theoretical doctrine in the church and to study how the church should change in a way that suits the present world.”

Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka Rev Dr Brian Udaigwe and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference President Rt Rev Dr Harold Anthony Perera also addressed the gathering.

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