‘Rethink repatriation unless absolutely necessary’ | Daily News


Foreign Secretary urges migrant workers, students abroad

‘Rethink repatriation unless absolutely necessary’

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha has called on migrant workers, students, and parents, to assess the effect repatriation could have on their jobs and education before deciding to return, availing the limited flights being operated at present. He said so last Saturday, in an appearance on ‘News at 9’ on Sri Lanka Rupavahini.

Aryasinha noted that over 38,000 Sri Lankans are seeking to be repatriated, and that 28,000 of them are migrant workers.

“The government’s priority right now, following the Cabinet Paper presented by Minister Dinesh Gunawardena two weeks ago, is to bring back the migrant workers that need to return, as their current stay abroad could be considered illegal and therefore, be restricted from obtaining any health or other essential facilities,” he said.

There are also others who wish to return to avoid the coronavirus outbreak.

Our plea to them, as well as to the students who wish to return, is to think about the impact it could have; the loss of employment or educational opportunities, Aryasinha said.

Some parents want their children to return, while others want them to finish their semesters first, he said.

The Foreign Ministry is working hard to get these students back, but after a month or two, their student status would have to be restored for them to resume their studies. It would be the same for those who lose their jobs, he added.

Therefore, such persons who wish to return should carefully assess their essential needs first before returning to the country for just a short period. This may not be the best time to use this window, as they would have to be under quarantine for 21 days upon arrival, he said.

“We will do everything possible to see that all Sri Lankans working or studying abroad would receive their necessities. And as for those on short-term visits, we have to bring them back. However, as there are many countries to cover, and as there are a limited number of flights currently active, the matter of bringing these persons back to the country is currently under discussion. 

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