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Economic Crisis and Austerity Measures Hit Poorest Hardest in Sri Lanka, Says UN Human Rights Chief

While Sri Lanka’s macro-economic situation has improved, the impacts of the economic crisis and associated austerity measures are severely affecting the poorest and already marginalized groups, said Volker Türk, the current High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In his opening remarks at the 56th session of the Human Rights Council, the UN Human Rights Chief highlighted that between 2021 and 2023, Sri Lanka’s poverty rate doubled from 13.1% to 25.9% and is expected to remain at such levels for the next few years.

Türk noted that globally, inequality has seen its largest increase in three decades, with poorer countries suffering a greater economic hit from the COVID-19 pandemic compared to richer countries.

Citing Oxfam, he mentioned that the wealth of the world’s five richest billionaires has more than doubled since the start of this decade, while 60% of humanity has grown poorer.

“4.8 billion people are poorer than they were in 2019. And the wealth gap between men and women globally? 100 trillion USD,” he added.

“We are a far cry from the 2030 Agenda’s promise to reach those furthest behind first,” said Volker Türk.

He also pointed out that nearly half of humanity—about 3.3 billion people—live in countries where governments spend more on servicing their debts than on investing in health and education systems.

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