Sri Lankan bishops ask for help for the needy

Worshipers urged to refrain from making Christmas a ‘simple occasion for outdoor celebrations’

Supporters of the Combined People’s Movement Trade Union Coordination Center (TUCC) take part in an anti-government protest rally in Colombo on October 27. (Photo: AFP)

Posted: Oct 28, 2022 11:22 GMT

Updated: October 28, 2022 at 11:23 GMT

The Catholic Bishops have urged the faithful to provide medicine and dry rations to the needy at a time when Sri Lanka is mired in crises.

In a statement issued on October 28, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka (CBCSL) urged people to be sensitive to those who are suffering in the country.

“All expenses are to be earmarked for the provision of dry rations, powdered milk for children and medicine for the poor and needy,” said the statement released by CBCSL President, Bishop Harold Anthony Perera, and the general secretary, Bishop JD Anthony Jayakody.

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“We urge the faithful to refrain from making Christmas merely an occasion for outward celebrations,” the Prelates said.

Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948. It has been grappling with drug shortages since last June. The United Nations World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization have warned that around 6.3 million people face moderate to severe acute food insecurity in the country.

“Christmas is a time to heal our country and bring comfort to the poor and suffering,” the Prelates said.

The state statistics department said the consumer price index hit a new high of 73.7% in September. Annual food price inflation accelerated to 85.8% from 84.6% in August.

Dr Haritha Aluthge, a member of the Association of Government Physicians, said there was a shortage of essential drugs in government hospitals.

Ann Maria, who has three children, said it is difficult to buy basic necessities because the prices are very high.

“My children say that some children faint during morning assembly at school,” said Maria, a member of the Legion of Mary in Negombo.

She said her parish priest asked congregants to prepare food parcels and bring them to church the first week of November to distribute to the poor.

“My husband and I have to work longer hours a day due to high commodity prices,” she said.

Years of economic mismanagement, the impact of the Covid pandemic and the currency crisis have resulted in a shortage of essential imports including fuel, food and medicine.

Abdur Rahim, national director of the World Food Programme, said Sri Lanka’s economy has collapsed and the country has run out of money to import essential goods.

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