Sri Lanka should start fund to bring back stranded workers: legislator

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka should start a fund to bring back stranded foreign workers, as some are reportedly being forced into prostitution, opposition legislator and an ex-Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva said.

“These are our sisters, brothers, fathers and mothers,” De Silva told parliament. “We can make a start in this parliament and set up a contributory fund to bring these people back.”

He had heard that some workers from the UAE had returned from contributors made by some philanthropists.

“We should also start a fund. That is a suggestion.”

De Silva said there were reports of migrant workers who had lost jobs being forced into prostitution.

He understood that the government was cash strapped, but some action had to be taken.

De Silva said the Foreign Employment Bureau had a fund of 10 billion rupees, a part of which had could be used.

“I was a former Deputy Foreign Minister, and I know they had problems at the time. Now they had got worse.”

De Silva said air ticket prices had soared to around 300,000 rupees which was unaffordable.

Aircraft sometimes went empty in one direction, spend on safety and also carry fewer passengers than usual. SriLankan Airlines is also going for a voluntary retire scheme.

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He said there were reports terminally ill persons with cancer, who should be helped.

De Silva there were people sleeping near the gates of Sri Lanka embassies.

There was a report that a crowd had gathered near the embassy in Jordan and after a commotion they had been tear-gassed and some had ended up in hospital.

Legislator Nimal Lanza said all attempts were being made to bring back stranded workers, but each day the numbers were going up.

Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry had said that over 60,000 workers had been repatriated, but there was now a waiting list of 68,000. (Colombo/Jan05/2020)

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