Report finds Tamil areas in Sri Lanka are pockets of poverty

If one were to apply the international poverty line of $2.5 per day, the figures in these three districts are 74.4 per cent, 60.9 per cent and 57.2 per cent respectively. As for the age profile of the poor in the North and East, the study points out that about 47 per cent of people living in poverty come under the group of below 25 years, compared to 40 per cent in other Provinces.Lack of access to the labour market and high unemployment rates, particularly among the youth and among educated women, are the factors that have contributed to the prevalence of such high rates of poverty.On the people in the estate sector, the World Bank’s report has said a large share of the population is “vulnerable to adverse shocks”. The World Bank has called for the implementation of programmes aimed at improving market accessibility, incentives to promote entrepreneurship among educated youth and schemes to help ex-combatants and women-headed households. As for the estates, multi-sector interventions should be undertaken to improve nutrition outcomes, enhance job opportunities for the youth and prepare for a growing number of aging estate workers, the report has added. With respect to the estates, the poverty headcount rate is 10.9 per cent, as per the Sri Lanka’s national poverty line and this goes up to 50.6 per cent under the international poverty line.Though the World Bank has not specifically given the figure of Batticaloa, a 2014 publication of the Department of Census and Statistics of the Sri Lankan government mentioned that the figure (as in 2012-2013) was 19.4 per cent. Describing as worrisome the non-monetary indicators of health and nutrition in the estates, the document has pointed out that the estates have the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. “About 30 percent of children below 5 are underweight, nearly one in three babies born have low birth weight, and one-third of women of reproductive age are malnourished.” Regions with the highest rate of poverty in Sri Lanka are areas inhabited by Tamils, according to a study of the World Bank.The regions come under the districts of Mannar, Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi in the Northern Province; Batticaloa in the East and plantations in Badulla district (Uva Province) and Nuwara Eliya (Central Province). One Sinhala-dominated region the study has identified as having a high rate of poverty is the Monaragala district, The Hindu newspaper reported. Going by Sri Lanka’s national poverty line of about $1.50 per day (Purchasing Power Parity in 2005), the poverty headcount rates of Mullaitivu, Mannar and Kilinochchi are 28.8 per cent, 20.1 per cent and 12.7 per cent respectively. read more

Outgoing UN Assembly President says momentum needed to sustain reform progress

“The 60th General Assembly session’s score-card is a good one,” Mr. Eliasson told delegates this morning. Highlighting areas where progress was achieved, he cited the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council, as well as last week’s agreement on a UN counter-terrorism strategy.He added that there was now a once-in-a-generation opportunity to “make poverty history,” with greater awareness of the global problem, better aid than ever before, and many governments committed to improving the lives of their peoples.Mr. Eliasson noted, however, that many reforms were not achieved during the 60th session, including strengthening the Economic and Social Council and reforming the Security Council.“More than ever before, we also need to focus on the underlying lack of dialogue among civilizations, cultures and nations,” he said. “There are no fewer tensions in the world of September 2006 than there were in 2005.”Member States must also live up to the “responsibility to protect,” he added. The same horrors that befell Cambodia, Rwanda and Srebrenica while the world stood by should not be allowed to happen in Darfur or elsewhere, he said.He also called for more action to ensure the different parts of the United Nations work together, as well as to build on the potential of regional organizations, the private sector, civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to reach shared goals.“The UN can never be the panacea,” he later told reporters at a press briefing. “The problems are so huge now that the UN can’t deal with them alone.” Noting that the end of his tenure also fell on the fifth anniversary of September 11th terror attacks, Mr. Eliasson paid homage to the victims of that day, “as well as the thousands of others who have been victims of terrorism all over the world both before and since.”He thanked Secretary-General Kofi Annan – whose second and final five-year term ends this year – for his “unfailing commitment to the principles and ideals of the United Nations, for his initiation and support of the reform process – and for his friendship over many years.”And Mr. Eliasson extended the “warmest of welcomes” to his successor, Haya Rashid Al Khalifa, who tomorrow becomes the first female General Assembly President since 1969. read more