Activists to complain to UNICEF on Children’s Day

  • Lament poor dietary habits, lack of access to education

By Dinitha Rathnayake

Consumer rights groups plan to complain to the United Nations (UN) Sri Lanka and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on World Children’s Day (1 October) regarding the difficulties faced by Sri Lankan children due to the poor quality of diet leading to malnutrition, and the lack of education amidst the pandemic.

Speaking to The Morning, consumer rights activist Asela Sampath confirmed that a complaint would be handed over to both offices on Children’s Day.

“This complaint would be related to malnutrition caused by the substandard diet, as well as the poor education system caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he stated.

He further noted that civil activists and university lecturers would also participate in this joint effort.

Meanwhile, he also commented on the increase in prices of milk powder, flour, cement, and gas.

“This increase is not due to the international market price; it is only to satisfy the businessmen helping the Rajapaksa regime. Sri Lanka’s food shortages are not genuine, but are the acts of a few traders,” he alleged. “In Sri Lanka, the current dhal price has been increased up to Rs. 260-280. Most of the time when there is a food shortage, people used to eat rice and dhal to satisfy their hunger; but at the moment, the general public doesn’t have that option either.”

Sampath also said that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s instructions to Sri Lanka Customs to immediately clear all essential food items currently in the port was “hilarious”, since most of the items are already available in the market.

The Prime Minister had issued this directive at the Cost of Living (CoL) Committee meeting held on 24 September via video conference.

It had been decided during the meeting to ensure that the essential food items cleared from the port are distributed to the general public through Sathosa outlets, and through the importers of essential goods, expeditiously.

It was also emphasised that officials of the Ministries of Trade and Agriculture should bear responsibility for releasing essential food items, including rice, to the market without any shortage.

Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena requested the Prime Minister to expedite the investigation into the complaint lodged by him regarding the allegations made by the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) Executive Director upon the latter’s resignation from his post.

Accordingly, the Prime Minister immediately telephoned the IGP and ordered that the investigation be expedited.

A request made by State Minister D.B. Herath for further procurement of animal feed including maise from foreign markets until the local harvest is received was also approved.