COLOMBO: The United Nations warned on Tuesday of a worsening food crisis in bankrupt Sri Lanka and said the number of people in need of urgent humanitarian aid had doubled to 3.4 million.
UN agencies estimated in June that 1.7 million of Sri Lanka’s 22 million people needed help.
United Nations agencies in Colombo said in a joint statement they had raised $79 million to feed those in need, but growing numbers of poor people meant they needed another $70 million.
“Food insecurity in Sri Lanka has increased significantly due to two consecutive seasons of poor harvests, foreign exchange shortages and reduced household purchasing power,” the statement said.
Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from Britain in 1948 and has been plagued by runaway inflation, power outages and fuel rationing since last year.
The country defaulted on its $51 billion external debt in mid-April and is in talks with the IMF for a $2.9 billion bailout.
Months of protests over high prices and shortages of food and medicine led to the overthrow of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in July.
The UN said its revised plan aims to feed 2.1 million people, including pregnant women and school children, and provide livelihood support to 1.5 million farmers and fishers.
He also said the poverty rate in the South Asian nation has doubled to 25.6% this year from 13.1% last year.

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