The United Nations human rights office (OHCHR) on Tuesday expressed concern over the worsening economic crisis in Sri Lanka and urged the government to peacefully de-escalate tensions.

The situation in the island nation has worsened and there have been food and fuel shortages, as well as power cuts, prompting further protests from desperate Sri Lankans, said OHCHR spokesperson Liz Throssell, in a statement.

The OHCHR spokeswoman said her office was “concerned that such measures seek to prevent or discourage people from legitimately expressing their grievances through peaceful protest, and that they impede the exchange views on matters of public interest”.

“We are closely following developments in Sri Lanka where in recent days authorities announced a state of emergency and other restrictions in response to mass protests against the country’s worst economic crisis in decades,” he said. she added.

Sri Lanka is going through its worst economic crisis since its independence. The crisis is caused by a shortage of foreign currency resulting from the restriction of tourist flow due to the coronavirus pandemic, as a result of which the country cannot buy enough fuel.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the island’s tourism sector hard, a key source of foreign exchange, and remittances from Sri Lankans working abroad have also declined. There is a severe shortage of food and essential supplies, fuel and gas in the country.

Sri Lankan authorities had previously imposed a curfew on the island, valid until Monday, and limited access to all social networks. Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Tuesday lifted the state of emergency in the country imposed on April 1.

The UN Human Rights Office said it would continue to monitor developments closely.

As the High Commissioner noted in her recent report to the Human Rights Council in February, the drift towards militarization and the weakening of institutional checks and balances in Sri Lanka have affected the state’s ability to effectively address the economic crisis and ensure the realization of the economic, social and cultural rights of all people in Sri Lanka,” said Throssell.

“We urge the government, political parties and civil society to engage in immediate, inclusive and meaningful dialogue to find a solution to the pressing economic and political challenges facing Sri Lanka and to avoid further polarization of the situation,” he said. she added.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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