Despite the government’s announcement yesterday (11) that an expeditious program will be launched to repatriate migrant workers who are due to return to Sri Lanka amidst difficulties in the Middle East and abroad, official government sources confirm that the program has not yet begun.
Retired Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage said on Sunday that the number of aircraft carrying Sri Lankans abroad would be increased to five. However in inquiries made by Lankasara it was revealed that no change has been made in the number of flights to the country.
Recently, Minister Namal Rajapaksa also announced in Parliament that he would increase the number of flights carrying Sri Lankans from abroad, but according to official government reports, 100 passengers on a UL 1264 flight from Saudi Arabia and a QR 668 flight from Qatar arrived in Sri Lanka yesterday (11). The 11-passenger UL 208 had 290 passengers on board from the United Arab Emirates.
In addition, two planes were carrying six passengers from Pakistan, two from Turkey and several from Germany.
This morning, 46 passengers arrived in Sri Lanka from the Maldives, 76 from Dubai, Qatar and 311.
According to the information it is evident that steps have not yet been taken to repatriate the Sri Lankans by additional planes.
When inquired a source from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Lankasara that repatriation flights have been planned till the end of February and are being implemented accordingly and no special increase has been made.
Attempts to contact Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage on the matter were not successful. In this situation, a large number of people, especially in the Middle East, are still in dire straits and not able to return to Sri Lanka.