Nearly 250 Lankans stranded in India
Repatriation to commence once situ improves
Migrant workers repatriation backlog cleared: SLBFE
Sri Lankan passport holders can return on available flights
By Yumiko Perera
There are approximately 200 to 250 Sri Lankans in India who are presently awaiting repatriation and the Sri Lankan authorities informed The Sunday Morning that despite the ongoing inbound travel ban on those with a 14-day prior travel history to India and Vietnam, once conditions improve, repatriations would commence from India and Vietnam.
According to Foreign Affairs Ministry Africa Affairs Division Director General Balasubramaniam Kandeepan, only a few Sri Lankans are awaiting repatriation at present.
Speaking with The Sunday Morning, Kandeepan noted that given the present Covid-19 pandemic situations in India and Vietnam, passengers with a travel history to those countries are not permitted to disembark on the island.
As per the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) Deputy General Manager (Training) and Spokesman, Mangala Randeniya, significant progress has been achieved in clearing the backlog of the numbers of migrant workers that were to be repatriated.
Speaking to The Sunday Morning, Randeniya said that though there is no special repatriation process in place at present, the usual flights are being operated so that anyone willing to come into the country can do so.
“There is no backlog of workers awaiting repatriation either, as there aren’t many migrant workers left to be repatriated. Those who wish to come can book the flights and arrive as the borders are now open. Sri Lankan passport holders can come to the country on available flights.”
Nearly 125,000 Sri Lankans have been brought back to the island since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, out of which 85,000 are migrant workers, as per statistics of the SLBFE.
Attempts made by The Sunday Morning to contact Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and the Regional Co-operation State Minister Tharaka Balasuriya for more insight on the matter, proved futile.