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25 May 2023 - News

PRESS RELEASE: Save the Children hosts ECHO mission, and provides lifesaving assistance to children in Sri Lanka

25 May 2023, Colombo, Sri Lanka– Children in Sri Lanka still require critical lifesaving support more than one year from the onset of the poly-crisis that continues to devastate the country with half a million jobs lost and 2.7 million additional people falling into poverty. (Data from World Bank)

Across the island, 38% of families with children are unable to meet their basic food and education needs, according to a recent needs assessment by Save the Children. In another stark sign of the escalating crisis, families are being forced into increasingly desperate measures to meet basic daily needs.

To address the threat to families’ essential needs, Save the Children has supported vulnerable households in the Colombo and Badulla districts with cash assistance of LKR 25,000 (USD 75) per month, from February to April 2023, through European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO). So far, this project has supported over 5500 people with cash assistance, mental health psychosocial support, including stress management and positive coping, as well as support for protection concerns to help them overcome the severe challenges brought on by the economic crisis. Thilini* a 26-year-old mother of three from the Colombo district who received support through the ECHO-funded project, said:

“Since the crisis began last year, prices of basic goods have become unaffordable. At times when we have no support, it is difficult for us to afford nutritious food, recently, all we ate was rice and dhal.

“To be very honest, we have barely been able to afford to get by. Mahesh* stopped going for his treatments, as we prioritized our children’s wellbeing over ours.”

“Receiving this cash assistance lifted a huge weight off my shoulders – our expenses were many, but I managed to buy my children nutritious food like eggs and meat, their school supplies, and the medicines we had foregone.” 

Thilini's* husband, Mahesh* suffered a stroke two years ago, leaving him partially paralyzed and unable to provide for his family since. Thilini* is now the primary caregiver to her husband and their young children, leaving her unable to seek work.

Save the Children’s Country Director in Sri Lanka, Julian Chellappah, said, “With the unpredictability of the poly-crisis, children in Sri Lanka are in dire need of immediate support, as it impacts their access to food, education, and protection. The country's children should not have to bear the burden of this crisis and pay for it with their futures. We wholeheartedly welcome this life-saving support from the EU, which will build resilience among the most vulnerable and marginalized and strengthen our ability to respond to communities most affected by this crisis.”    


Notes to editor:  

  • In consortium with World Vision and ACTED, Save the Children received humanitarian assistance funding from the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO). The support was provided for three months from February to April 2023.
  • The European Civil Protection and Civil Aid Operations provides humanitarian emergency and disaster response funding on behalf of the European Union. 
  • Through the ECHO-funded project, this lifesaving assistance has supported 5500 people, including 2371 children, to access and afford their necessities regarding education, protection, and food. 
  • In consortium with World Vision and ACTED, Save the Children hosted delegates from the European Union- Tapan Mahapatra, ECHO Focal Point for Sri Lanka and Anne Sophie Laenkholm, Thematic Expert – Regional Protection, Gender and Education in Emergencies within the communities who have received ECHO-funded support.
  • Save the Children has been working around the world for over 100 years across over 120 countries and in Sri Lanka since 1974, contributing to both humanitarian and development needs across the country in thematic areas of education, child protection, health and nutrition, vocational skills development, and child rights governance. Our current humanitarian response aims to address the immediate lifesaving needs of the most marginalized and at-risk communities in 8 districts as the country faces its worst economic crisis in history. Since March 2022, our interventions have reached 223,972 people, including over 155,616 children, through multi-purpose cash assistance, cash for protection, emergency case management support, agricultural/home gardening support, provision of maternity kits/ dignity kits, awareness raising on Disaster Risk Reduction, Child Protection and Gender-Based Violence, and support to the government's National School Meal Programme. 
  • In February 2023, Save the Children released phase II of its Rapid Needs Assessment.