Human rights must be at the heart of the solution to the crisis in Sri Lanka: A blog by the United Nations Resident Coordinator

Sri Lanka’s severe economic crisis shows no signs of ending soon, with newly installed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe warning of tougher days ahead. Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, the top UN official in Sri Lanka, told UN News that amid violent protests and the imposition of a state of emergency, any solution must involve strong democracy and respect for human rights. Media Services Pvt. ltd

“Since the start of the crisis, the UN has monitored more than 1,000 demonstrations. Initially, these were peaceful, driven by citizen participation and characterized by calls for a change of government: they were joined by political parties, trade unions, student unions, clergy and other groups of interest.

But as the gas and fuel shortage grew, we began to see violent clashes. Around 60 houses were set on fire, around eight people were killed and several others injured.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called the authorities independently, thoroughly and transparently investigate all attacks that have taken place, in particular against peaceful protesters.

There must be a meaningful and inclusive dialogue with all components of society, to address the socio-economic challenges facing the population. Political stability is essential to create an environment conducive to negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which can then pave the way for economic recovery.

We hope that Sri Lanka will soon find a peaceful solution to the current alleviate the suffering of the population, strengthen democracy and human rights and prevent further violence.

UN constant support

The United Nations has worked tirelessly for many months to help Sri Lanka cope. We have tried to support and reduce the impact on the most vulnerable groups, and we work closely with international financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMFto help ensure their support in a coordinated manner.

It is imperative that we prevent a humanitarian crisis, so we must intervene now.

The UN focused its response on four critical areas: health, food security, social protection and economic policy advice.

In health, we support the Ministry of Health to closely monitor available medical supplies and coordinate the purchase of medicines and emergency medical supplies from development partners, including donations to fill gaps immediate: due to a lack of foreign currency, the country cannot buy medicines.

In food security, we help farmers adopt good agricultural practices and provide cash transfers, while in social protection, we advise the government to prioritize certain measures and make the most of the system. already in place. place.

The fourth theme is macroeconomic policy advice. The UN provided a policy note with key measures to support macroeconomic stabilization and debt sustainability, to support the government in its discussions with the IMF and other international financial institutions.

The technical part of the government is still functioning, and my colleagues from all the UN agencies continue to work with their counterparts in the ministries. We discuss innovative sources of financing, which will help Sri Lanka recover.

Hopefully there will be a government cabinet in place soon, and our work will continue, but technically I think we are all still working quite closely.

© ADB/MA Pushpa KumaraRacks empty due to lack of supply from supermarkets in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (Case)

Ensuring an inclusive and sustainable future

Our work is not only to meet the immediate needs of the population, but also to prevent deep crises. We must therefore help to prevent Sri Lanka from slipping back in areas such as access to health and education.

Despite what is happening now, the country is a model in Southeast Asia, so we must protect all the gains: this crisis does not only affect traditionally vulnerable groups, but also the middle class and the lower middle class, which also falls into the vulnerable category.

Finally, we also recognize that there are broader political and systematic root causes that have perpetrated discrimination and undermined human rights and need to be continuously addressed. To this end, we are finalizing the next United Nations Sustainable Development Framework for Sri Lanka, which covers the years 2023 to 2027, and includes a number of strategies and programs to help the country build a more sustainable and inclusive economy that benefits people and the planet.”


United Nations Resident Coordinator

  • The United Nations Resident Coordinator, sometimes referred to as the RC, is the highest representative of the United Nations development system at the country level.
  • In this occasional series, UN News invites Resident Coordinators to blog about issues important to the United Nations and the country where they serve.

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