Repatriations to resume soon
By Yumiko Perera
The Government of Sri Lanka is hoping to recommence the repatriation of Sri Lankans who are seeking to return to the country, including those who are currently stranded in India, The Sunday Morning learnt.
Sri Lanka in early May, barred the entry of Indian travellers with immediate effect due to the rise in Covid-19 cases in India. The travel restrictions had been imposed upon the instructions of the health authorities of Sri Lanka.
Speaking with The Sunday Morning, a Director General of the Foreign Ministry in charge of Covid-19-related repatriation, B. Kandeepan said: “The flights have been halted for the time being due to the current circumstances in India. While this is only temporary, we would resume the repatriation process soon.”
Kandeepan further added that approximately 120,000 Sri Lankans have been repatriated so far from various parts of the world, and that once conditions improve, they wished to resume the repatriation process as soon as possible.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in a statement released on 5 May had stated that passengers travelling from India would not be permitted to disembark in Sri Lanka with immediate effect as per the instructions received from the health authorities of Sri Lanka.
Prior to the travel restrictions imposed on India, the CAA had also instructed all airlines to limit their passengers to Sri Lanka to 75 per aircraft for two weeks with effect from 3 May.
Efforts made by The Sunday Morning to contact Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, State Minister of Regional Co-operation Tharaka Balasuriya, and Foreign Secretary Admiral (Retd.) Prof. Jayanath Colombage, in this regard, proved futile.