Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948, and the island nation has been unable to finance the import of necessities such as food, medicines and fuel since late last year. The country has also been hit severely by a record high inflation and lengthy power blackouts, which have eventually led to protests calling on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to step down. (Also Read | ‘He’s putting lot of pressure on selectors, captain, coach’: Smith names one India youngster favourite for T20 WC berth)
The South Asian nation is struggling to find a foreign exchange to pay for desperately needed fuel imports, and its existing stock of petrol and diesel is projected to run out in a matter of days. While the country is in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package, people have swarmed gas stations, resulting in a long line of vehicles stretching several kilometres.
Amid the crisis, Roshan Mahanama, who was a part of the Sri Lankan cricket team that won the 1996 ODI World Cup, shared pictures of him serving tea and buns to people lining up at the petrol station.
“We served tea and buns with the team from Community Meal Share this evening for the people at the petrol queues around Ward Place and Wijerama mawatha. The queues are getting longer by the day and there will be many health risks to people staying in queues,” Mahanama wrote on Twitter.
“Please, look after each other in the fuel queues. Bring adequate fluid and food and if you’re not well please, reach out to the closest person next to you and ask for support or call 1990. We need to look after each other during these difficult times.”
Earlier, Australian players, who are currently visiting Sri Lanka for a multi-format series, extended support to the nation that’s witnessing a spiralling crisis.
In a clip shared by the Australian High Commission in Colombo, pacer Mitchell Starc and batter Steve Smith said they are encouraging friends to ‘assist in any way they can’ in the UN’s appeal for $47.2 million of emergency funds.
The UN has said that 1.7 million people so far in the nation of 22 million are in need of ‘life-saving assistance’, further adding that more than three-quarters of the population have reduced their food intake due to food shortages.
“The UN has launched a flash appeal in Sri Lanka to support poor communities affected by the crisis,” Starc said. “We are proud that Australia is doing its bit. Together, we can help Sri Lanka hit this crisis for six, “said Smith.