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NOTICE TO SRI LANKAN STUDENTS WHO WISH TO RETURN TO SRILANKA

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VESAK DAY MESSAGE OF H.E. GOTABAYA RAJAPAKSA, PRESIDENT OF SRI LANKA

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FOREIGN SECRETARY ARYASINHA ELABORATES ON CABINET DECISION TO GIVE PRIORITY IN REPATRIATION TO VULNERABLE SECTORS AMONG OVERSEAS SRI LANKAN MIGRANT WORKERS

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha participated in a television interview, recorded today (07 May 2020), at the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) where he expanded on the Cabinet Paper presented by Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Foreign Relations, Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations  regards "addressing the vulnerable sectors of the migrant labour category of Overseas Sri Lankans amidst the COVID-19 pandemic by the Government of Sri Lanka".

The full transcript of the interview is below.

Read more: FOREIGN SECRETARY ARYASINHA ELABORATES ON CABINET DECISION TO GIVE PRIORITY IN REPATRIATION TO VULNERABLE SECTORS AMONG OVERSEAS SRI LANKAN MIGRANT WORKERS

 

MODALITIES TO ISSUE TEMPORARY TRAVEL DOCUMENTS TO UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS ABROAD AGREED ON

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Modalities to issue temporary travel documents to undocumented workers abroad following proper authentication procedures has been agreed on by the Department of Immigration and Emigration. This follows consultations between the Ministry of Foreign Relations, Ministry of Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations and Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE). It is intended to facilitate the repatriation of migrant workers, once the Government decides on a timeline for their repatriation.

This was discussed at a meeting convened today (04 May 2020) by the Minister of Foreign Relations, Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations, Dinesh Gunawardena with the relevant line agencies.

The interest expressed through the ‘Contact Sri Lanka’ portal by migrant workers to return and the amnesties presently declared by Kuwait and Jordan were reviewed. The vulnerability faced by migrant workers particularly in the Maldives and possible measures to address it, was also discussed. The programme by the Foreign Ministry and the SLBFE to provide dry rations to the Sri Lankan migrant communities most affected was also assessed.

Minister Gunawardena briefed those present on the negotiations that have taken place with the foreign governments concerned and efforts being made to be responsive to these governments, while ensuring that any repatriation remains consistent with the ongoing quarantine process.

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha, Senior Additional Secretary (Development) of the Ministry of Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations Sujeewa Thissera, Controller General of Department of Immigration & Emigration Sarath Rupasiri, Chairman of Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment Kamal Ratwatte, and other Senior Officials, participated at the meeting.

 

Ministry of Foreign Relations

Colombo

04 May 2020

 

FACILITATION OF INWARD REMITTANCES-FOR SPECIAL DEPOSIT ACCOUNTS (SDAS)

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REPATRIATION OF SRI LANKAN STUDENTS FROM SOUTH ASIA CONCLUDES

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With the arrival this evening (30 April) of UL 1188 carrying 125 Sri Lankan students from Kolkata, the operation to bring home 1065 Sri Lankan students based in the South Asian region, over 10 days, reached a successful conclusion.

Commencing on 21 April 2020, a total of nine (9) Sri Lankan Airlines special flights were used to destinations in India (Punjab, Mumbai, Coimbatore, Bangalore, New Delhi and Kolkata) Pakistan (Karachi and Lahore), Nepal (Kathmandu) and Bangladesh (Dhaka), to repatriate the  Sri Lankan students who had expressed their desire to return to Sri Lanka in the wake of the COVID 19 Pandemic. Those repatriated also included public and military officials who had completed study and training programmes in the respective countries and had to return to take up official duties back in Sri Lanka. Currently all returnees are undergoing mandatory quarantine at facilities afforded by the Sri Lanka Government.

Following the analysis of data on the most vulnerable Overseas Sri Lankans wishing to return and the recommendation of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, on 14 April, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa instructed that students in South Asia be the first category to be repatriated following the closure of the airport for arrivals to Sri Lanka from abroad. The Ministry in close collaboration with the Sri Lanka Missions in South Asia, the Presidential Secretariat, the Coviod 19 Task Force and the Sri Lankan Airlines, and with strong assistance of the respective foreign governments ensured the safe return of the students stationed across many cities in the region, amidst numerous challenges posed by the complexities arising out of the global Pandemic.

Read more: REPATRIATION OF SRI LANKAN STUDENTS FROM SOUTH ASIA CONCLUDES

   

REPATRIATION OF OSLS CONSTRAINED BY LIMITED AVAILABILITY OF QUARANTINE FACILITIES -SRI LANKA ENGAGED WITH KUWAIT TO SECURE AN EXTENSION OF AMNESTY DEADLINE

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Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha has said, so far repatriations have been carried out by the GOSL identifying the most vulnerable categories of Overseas Sri Lankans (OSLs), in the face of the limited availability of quarantine facilities in the country, as Sri Lanka continues to seek to gain control over the spread of COVID 19 in Sri Lanka.

In comments on Friday -24 April, (to Sirasa Radio and the “Dawasa” TV programme), the Secretary said through the ‘Contact Sri Lanka’ web portal and other means, to-date, over 27,000 OSLs have expressed their wish to return. This number includes over 17,000 migrant workers and dependents, 6,000 students and about 3,000 short term visa holders and tourists.

Secretary Aryasinha said the government’s focus in the present wave of repatriation was on students and those on government training in South Asia, considering the particular vulnerability they faced from a medical perspective. This repatriation process is being operationalized by Sri Lanka Missions in those countries in consultation with the Ministry, the Covid 19 Task Force and a host of national agencies. Similar developing situations elsewhere are also being closely monitored by the Ministry of Foreign Relations and appropriate recommendations will be made for the consideration of the policy makers, for decision and facilitation for repatriation.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s network of 67 Missions are assisting and facilitating Sri Lankan expatriates in need. In addition to provision of dry rations and medicines, where necessary with the assistance of local Sri Lanka community and religious organizations, Missions are also facilitating extension of visa, enabling repatriation/transfer of funds through banking channels, coordination with educational institutes and overall ensuring the well-being of OSLs.

He said the specific situation in Kuwait, where an amnesty has been declared for over 19,000 workers who are out of status, has been a key focus of the Ministry. The Governments of Sri Lanka and Kuwait are in discussion to extend the amnesty period and the modalities of implementation were the focus of a discussion held this week by Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and the Kuwaiti Ambassador in Colombo Khalaf M. M. Bu Dhhair, pursuant to a telephone conversation held between Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Kuwati Prime Minister His Highness Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. The Foreign Secretary said following these discussions, conscious of the difficulty in repatriating persons to Sri Lanka at this time, a mutually beneficial decision is expected.

Secretary Aryasinha noted, that Missions had been able to minimize the vulnerability faced by the OSLs migrant workers in most settings. Assistance provided by International organizations such as IOM, Caritas and Red Crescent societies have been supportive to further the efforts of the Missions. He said the Mission in Seoul, ROK had assured that while there had been delays in some commencing their employment contracts, their jobs were secure. The Mission is also engaged in discussions with local authorities to extend the contractual periods of those currently due to complete their contracts in the ROK. The Mission is additionally seeking opportunities to fill any gaps in employment, which could arise due to the dislocation caused by the present pandemic.

Ministry of Foreign Relations

Colombo

25 April 2020

Full interview on Sirasa TV “Dawasa” athttps://youtube.com/watch?v=Yb5q14SYXpM… #lka

 

   

SRI LANKA MISSIONS ABROAD SEEK TO RE-POSITION SRI LANKA’S EXPORTS TO MEET MARKET CONDITIONS RESULTING FROM THE COVID-19 CRISIS

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha has observed that even as the Foreign Ministry was preoccupied with endeavouring to mitigate a multitude of problems faced by Overseas Sri Lankans, it was in parallel also seeking to re-position Sri Lanka’s exports in the context of market conditions that have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. He said if this was successful, Sri Lanka would emerge one step ahead in the global supply chain, in a post COVID-19 world.

The Foreign Secretary made these observations earlier this week in an appearance on the Sri Lanka Rupavahini’s ‘Ethera Methara’ programme. Commenting on the efforts by Sri Lanka’s network of 67 Missions and Consulate-General Offices abroad in promoting Sri Lanka’s exports during these constrained times, he said the Ministry’s traditional ‘Economic Diplomacy Programme’ led by the Economic Affairs Division, has been modified to accommodate the changed circumstances.

It is noted that the Ministry of Foreign Relations, together with the Export Development Board (EDB) and Sri Lankan Missions abroad, are continuing to explore access for Sri Lankan products into new markets, to support the government’s economic plan in sustaining the economy during the pandemic and mitigating the economic downturn in its aftermath. Informed by weekly updates provided by Missions abroad on the evolving world markets as well as prevailing procedures, requirements and restrictions in their countries  of accreditation, in the background of COVID-19 pandemic, this initiative has thus far facilitated in connecting Sri Lankan exporters with importers in ten countries with regard to tea, spices, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), rubber gloves, face masks, reusable masks, surgical masks, surgical caps, surgical gowns, sanitary tissues, processed food, fruits and vegetables, spices and seafood.

Read more: SRI LANKA MISSIONS ABROAD SEEK TO RE-POSITION SRI LANKA’S EXPORTS TO MEET MARKET CONDITIONS RESULTING FROM THE COVID-19 CRISIS

   

SRI LANKA EXPRESSES SOLIDARITY WITH FAMILIES OF FOREIGN NATIONALS ON THE DEVASTATING LOSS OF LOVED ONES

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In a post earlier today to Missions in Sri Lanka and abroad on the one-year anniversary of the suicide attacks on Easter Sunday, 21st April 2019, the Ministry of Foreign Relations observed:

“On this day, Sri Lanka remembers all those lives lost and changed forever in barbaric acts of violence one year ago. We share the grief of families who lost their loved ones and stand in solidarity with those countries which lost their nationals”.

These attacks on churches and hotels killed around 270 persons, Sri Lankans as well as foreign nationals from 14 countries from across the world, and injured many others, on a day venerated by Christians the world over. Among those killed were citizens from Australia, Bangladesh, China, Denmark, India, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, UK and USA.

In commemorating this date and the loss of so many lives in Sri Lanka, officials of Sri Lanka Missions in countries of accreditation which lost their nationals in these attacks, took the initiative to contact the families of those foreign nationals, to express Sri Lanka’s grief at their loss and offered continued solidarity. Others were conveyed formal sentiments of condolences through their respective Foreign Offices. The officials were in return met with grace and appreciation even at this time of remembrance of grief and irreplaceable loss.

 

Ministry of Foreign Relations

Colombo

21 April 2020

   

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