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UNICEF Australia thanks generosity of Australia cricketers for Sri Lanka

Children from Colombo share how they've been affected by the current crisis. “My school in Colombo had to close before the end of the term. I was not able to go to school because there was no fuel. I am worried about what will happen next. I just need fuel for my school van” Ms. Jithmini Jayasanki, 17 years, outskirts of Colombo city - © UNICEF/UN0649279

The Australian men’s cricket team has generously donated its’ prize money from their recent tour of Sri Lanka to support children and families impacted by the nation’s worst economic crisis in decades.  

Led by captains Pat Cummins and Aaron Finch, the team nominated UNICEF Australia to receive the $45,000 donation for the Sri Lanka appeal.

UNICEF operates in more than 190 countries in some of the world’s toughest places to reach the most disadvantaged children. UNICEF Australia works with local partners to raise children’s voices, defend their rights, and help them reach their potential at all stages of life, here and in neighbouring countries.

At present, food prices have risen by 80 per cent, more than two thirds of households have reduced food consumption, school is limited to three days per week as travel for teachers and students is hindered by fuel shortages, and queuing is commonplace for families needing medicines and fuel. Health services are increasingly difficult to access, and clean drinking water is in short supply.

Recently returned from Sri Lanka, UNICEF Australia CEO Tony Stuart thanked the Australian cricketers for their ongoing support of UNICEF’s work in South Asia.

“Last year Australian cricketers got behind India in its time of crisis during the peak of the COVID-19 Delta wave and we thank them for again giving generously to help Sri Lankans impacted by the current crisis.

“Australia has a strong bond with Sri Lanka that goes beyond the match days and this donation is gratefully received to support the long-term wellbeing of Sri Lanka’s families,” he said.   

The funds will go towards UNICEF’s programs to support nutrition, healthcare, safe drinking water, education, and mental health services for 1.7 million vulnerable Sri Lankan children in need.

Touring Sri Lanka for the first time since 2016, Australia played two test matches, five ODI matches and three T20 matches during a six-week tour.

Cummins, a UNICEF Australia ambassador, said: “It was very clear to us how much day-to-day life for Sri Lankans is being impacted.

“When the team saw what was happening it was an easy decision to donate our prize money to UNICEF, who have been in Sri Lanka for more than 50 years supporting the needs of children and families.”

During the last one-day match in Colombo, the team was overwhelmed to see thousands of Sri Lankan locals wearing gold as a thank you to the team for supporting the country with their presence.

“It was truly moving and something we had not experienced anywhere else in the world,” Finch said.

“It really brought home how much it meant to them to host us at such a difficult time. We felt so warmly welcomed by the Sri Lankan people so hopefully we helped lift their spirits in some small way.”

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