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Sri Lanka yet to decide on sending COVID-19 victims to Maldives for burial: Keheliya

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has made no decision yet to send bodies of Muslims who succumbed to COVID-19 to the Maldives for burial, co-cabinet spokesman and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said.

Any government decision regarding this will be made based on the advice of the Health Ministry-appointed COVID expert committee, the minister said. It is not the cabinet or the Prime Minister that will take a call on it, he added.

Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid tweeted yesterday that his government was consider a request from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to assist Sri Lanka with the burial of Sri Lankan Muslim COVID-19 victims.

“President Solih’s decision is based on the close, long standing bilateral ties between Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and to ensure help to face the challenges of the pandemic. This assistance will also offer solace to our Sri Lankan Muslim brothers and sisters grieving over burial of loved ones,” Shahid said in a second tweet.

Rambukwella told reporters this morning that Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry will issue a detailed statement on the matter.

He further said that when the World Health Organisation (WHO) initially suggested that burials should be country-specific, the government referred it to the expert committee.

“From time to time we have been considering their views. Whenever there are certain requests and appeals from the various quarters, we have referred that to the expert committee. We strongly believe if we appoint a committee of that nature then we need to take their advice. You don’t appoint them and make arbitrary decisions,” he said.

Rambukwella added that if a proposal has been made to take the burials elsewhere, a final decision in that regard will be taken after referring it to the expert committee. (Colombo/Dec15/2020)

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