ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka will continue the repatriation of Sri Lankans abroad at a slow pace due to the capacity of the quarantine centres, Secretary to the Foreign Ministry (Ret) Admiral Prof Jayanath Colombage said.
He told Adaderana TV that the government cannot deploy flights for the repatriation process daily due to problems with the capacities in quarantine centres.
“Sometimes we deploy flights one flight every two or three days to bring back the Sri Lankans at government expenses,” he said.
He said that when there were huge number of COVID cases in the country such as from the Minuwangoda cluster Peliyagoda cluster and the prison cluster the capacity in the quarantine centers are tested “So in such instances, we had to slow down the repartition process,” he added,
Moreover, he said that they had managed to bring at least 50 Sri Lankans at a time through cargo flights operated by Emirates and Etihad, who were asked to manage their own expenses by being quarantined at hotels.
He said that it was decided to do so in that manner because government would have to incur huge expenses in arranging hotels and quarantine centres for them at the same time.
Colombage said that 12,250 Sri Lankans were brought back in the month of December alone which the highest number brought back in a month.
He also added most of them were brought on cargo flights.
Further, he said that 61,436 Sri Lankans from 137 countries have being brought back so far since February 2020.
While rejecting that only priority was given people who can manage to pay for tickets and quarantine, he said that from Middle-East alone 27,953 was brought through repatriation.
“People who were in road and parks without shelter in Middle-East were all brought back,” he said. (Colombo/Jan04/2021)
Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe