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The Economic Crisis of Sri Lanka threatens extreme starvation

Unprecedented food and fuel shortages, record prices, and power outages have resulted in widespread misery in Sri Lanka's most disastrous downturn since the country's independence from Britain in 1948.

Unrest has developed as a result of public outrage about the economic crisis and the government's handling of it. In response to violent protests and calls for his resignation, Sri Lanka's president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, declared a national emergency last week. This injunction was lifted on Tuesday as political uncertainty increased and the ruling party's grip on power eroded even further.

Despite the emergency regulations, protests have expanded across the 22 million-person country. Crowds have attempted to assault the residences of numerous key government leaders since the weekend, and public fury is at an all-time high.

"If we don't act now, there will be a torrent of blood in the nation," said Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, a newly independent legislator who defected from the president's party and supported demands for the leader to go.

Many protests have been nonviolent, including a march in the capital organized by Catholic clergy and nuns.

"This is a valuable country with intelligent people." But corruption has insulted our intelligence, the intelligence of the people," said Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith. "As a result, we're now shouting... Please follow the people's request and resign now.”

As public dissatisfaction over the governing family's economic stewardship intensified, Rajapaksa attempted to form a unity government. His once-powerful coalition is in shambles as a result of a succession of defections, culminating in the resignation of the new finance minister only one day after taking office. Sri Lanka's entire cabinet resigned last week, except the president and his brother prime minister, due to the turbulence and dissatisfaction with the administration.

After hundreds of MPs defected from the ruling alliance, Rajapaksa lifted the state of emergency late Tuesday, putting his government in the minority in parliament. Politically, the president's elder brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, might be replaced as prime minister, or hasty parliamentary elections could be held before a scheduled poll in 2025. The move was made to avoid a vote on the extraordinary laws in parliament, where the government is five seats short of a simple majority.

Despite the administration's minority status, there has been no indication that opposition legislators would hold a no-confidence vote to remove it anytime soon. Opposition parties, though, have already turned down Rajapaksa's invitation to join a unity government led by him and his brother. According to Nimal Lanza, a retired minister who also left Rajapaksa's cabinet, the ruling party no longer has the legitimacy to rule.

"I beg and encourage you to side with the demonstrators," he shouted in parliament, addressing Prime Minister Theresa May, who was there but stayed silent.

Sri Lanka is unable to meet its large $51 billion international debt due to a catastrophic shortage of foreign currency, with the sickness jeopardizing key tourism and remittance earnings. As a result, there have been significant shortages, with no end in sight to the economic troubles.

According to analysts, government mismanagement, years of accumulated debt, and ill-advised tax cuts have aggravated Sri Lanka's situation.

Due to a paucity of foreign funds, the administration announced the closure of three diplomatic posts in Norway, Iraq, and Australia. In January, three more were shuttered in Nigeria, Germany, and Cyprus.

A physician's association also warned the administration that a severe medicine shortage might put the healthcare system at a standstill. "Failure to guarantee a continuous and appropriate supply of vital medical drugs may result in the collapse of the whole health system," the organization said in a letter to the health minister. "This will put our citizens' lives in jeopardy amid an extraordinary crisis," the Government Medical Officers Association said.

During the capital's protests, more than 60 individuals were detained in connection with the disturbance, and several have claimed to have been tortured in police custody.

The UN Human Rights Council said it was keeping a careful eye on the deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka, which is already under international scrutiny for its human rights record.


"In Sri Lanka, the slide toward militarization and the loss of institutional checks and balances have hampered the state's ability to address the economic crisis effectively," the UNHRC observed.

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Tags: #UN Human Rights Council #Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe #Gotabaya Rajapakshe #Sri Lanka


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