ECONOMYNEXT – Parliamentarian Imthiaz Bakeer Markar is proposing that the government prioritize the return of more than 50,000 Sri Lankan migrant workers who are without work and facing a daily struggle to live in foreign lands.
In his first speech in this Parliament made yesterday, the Opposition Member said that Parliament, without dividing themselves along party lines, should appeal to the government to take action in this regard.
He read out parts of a letter sent by a migrant worker who claims to be very sick, which appealed for help.
The worker had also written that “only the rich and influential are getting the chance to come home.”
Bakeer Marker said, “these workers who supported hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans are now facing much hardship and this is a major tragedy.”
“It is not right for us to look for various reasons why we should not bring these people home” he added
“It is my proposal that this issue be given high priority.”
In his proposal, he said this Parliament should request the government that these people be looked after while they are overseas.
“Their personal safety and security, food and other necessities must be provided in the countries they are living in and be brought back home as quickly as possible without undue delay,” he said.
“As a just and civilized society we have a responsibility for all our citizens whether they live here or overseas,” he went on.
More than a million migrant workers labouring in many foreign lands send their earnings, amount to millions of dollars home and nurture this country he pointed out.
Because of the Covid pandemic, many of them have faced difficulties in continuing their jobs. They have appealed to the government to bring them back.
“We have seen in the media the state some of them have been reduced to. They have no shelter, no food or medicine,” Bakeer Markar said.
“I make this proposal not from a partisan political standpoint but for humane reasons,” the Samagi Jana Balavegaya MP said.
“Having our people suffer under inhuman conditions in these foreign lands is tarnishing the image of our country,” he said.
“I call on the government to coordinate the resources available to the United Nations, the Red Cross and other aid agencies to help these people. Sri Lankans in those countries are doing what they can, but how long can they sustain such aid,” he asked.
He proposed that the government can prioritize their return according to their needs and situation. “There are pregnant women, older people, those who are sick, we can prioritize based on their needs,” he said
He also pointed out that there are funds available to repatriate these people.
All these migrant workers are registered with the government and are charged Rs 18,300 each. These monies have been deposited.
We have also got money from Kuwait several million which have also been deposited and earning interest. These funds can be used to help these migrants. (Colombo, September 12, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana