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    Over 14,000 Sri Lankans repatriated in two months

    z_p01-OverSri Lanka has expedited the return of 14,006 locals during the last two months and would expedite the repatriation of 40,000 migrant workers who have lost their jobs overseas, Acting Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Dayani Mendis said.

    She was addressing an interactive dialogue on human rights of migrant workers in Geneva.

    “Notwithstanding the challenges entailed both in terms of the logistics of movement and on the capacities on quarantine to the government, as of July 6, 14,006 Sri Lankans were evacuated on repatriation flights over a period of two months, of which 5125 (36.59%) were migrant workers. Sri Lanka has sent at least one repatriation flight to almost all the destinations which have a large migrant worker presence, with multiple flights to Male, Dubai, Qatar, Dhaka and Singapore. Sri Lanka is also expediting the return of a near 40,000 migrant workers who have lost their jobs,” she said.

    She told the gathering that through the web portal ‘Contact Sri Lanka’ created to guide and provide information and to assist in emergencies, over 13,000 questions posed by Overseas Sri Lankans were answered by a dedicated team, ensuring the wellbeing of the migrant workers spread over 120 countries.

    “The contribution of migrant workers to economic growth and development is increasingly becoming critical not only for their own countries, but also as a catalyst for the upward socio-economic mobility in the region and internationally.

    A further consequence of COVID-19 has been the shrinking of the employment market, which could lead to a serious shortfall in the numbers of migrant workers who will leave for work this year and in turn a drop in worker remittances,” she said.

    She however added that if the issue of ‘migrant health’, which Sri Lanka had championed received greater international attention at the time, there may have been a tangible difference in the management of the COVID-19 crisis, particularly with regard to undocumented workers, stranded in host countries, whose access to medical facilities remains limited.

    She urged for greater regional and global efforts to be channeled to ensure that ‘migrant health’ becomes a cornerstone in the future management of migrant populations, and the human right to health is secured for all, including migrants and refugees.

    There are nearly 1.5 million migrant workers from Sri Lanka overseas.

    Courtesy – Daily News

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