Australia to provide $50m support to Sri Lanka

Colombo [Sri Lanka]Jun 21 (ANI): Australia will provide $50 million in official development assistance to help Sri Lanka meet urgent food and healthcare needs, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs announced on Monday.

Sri Lanka is currently facing its worst economic crisis in seventy years, resulting in shortages of food, medicine and fuel. The island nation’s worst economic crisis in seven decades has resulted in a foreign exchange shortage that has blocked imports of essential items such as fuel, medicine and fertilizer.

“We will immediately provide $22 million to the World Food Program for emergency food assistance to help three million people in Sri Lanka meet their daily nutritional needs. Australia will also provide $23 million in aid to development in Sri Lanka in 2022-23,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Australian Foreign Office said it had a close and long-standing relationship with Sri Lanka. “Not only do we want to help the people of Sri Lanka in these difficult times, but there are also deeper consequences for the region if this crisis continues,” the statement said.

This will support health services and economic recovery, with a strong focus on protecting those at risk, especially women and girls.

The aid was announced as Australian Home Secretary Clare O’Neil visited the country on Monday. This visit coincides with the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The Daily Mirror reported that the trip also follows the interception of several boats of asylum seekers traveling to Australia from the country in recent weeks.

The Australian Border Force has reportedly intercepted three boats carrying asylum seekers since the May 21 election, raising new concerns.

O’Neil met with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to discuss how Australia can help Sri Lanka through its economic struggles and its commitment to the fight against human trafficking.

Newly elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his government wanted to use the trip to send the message that “people arriving by boat” would not be settled in Australia.

“We understand that there are problems in Sri Lanka and that smugglers are sending the wrong messages – our message will be very clear,” he said. (ANI)

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