Despite the Sri Lankan foreign employees who worked in West Asia are apprehensive about returning to those countries because of the bitter experience they had with the Covid pandemic more freshers are willing to get a job opportunity there The Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agency (ALFEA) has said to the Sunday Times.
The Sri Lankan English weekly reports that around 50,000 people are waiting with clearance to work in West Asia but their journeys have been held due to COVID travel restrictions in Sri Lanka.
The Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agency (ALFEA) said it has received 35,000 visas from Qatar and 10,000 visas from Saudi Arabia but are unable to send the workers because the selected personnel are unable to travel to Colombo.
ALFEA Secretary M.H.M. Harshad has further said to The Sunday Times that all personnel need to report to their respective agencies to finalise formalities but agency offices have been closed for nearly a month.
“We have requested that our services be made ‘essential’ but there has been no response from the government,” he said. People engaged in essential services can gain exemptions from travel restrictions.
Currently, only Qatar and Saudi Arabia have opened their doors to Sri Lankan workers.
Kuwait and Dubai will open up soon, Mr Harshad said.
He revealed that most people who had held jobs in the are apprehensive about returning to those countries because of the bitter experience they had during the height of the pandemic.
“All who want to go now are ‘freshers’, and they come from the Eastern and North-Western provinces,” the ALFEA Secretary said.
The number of women taking up jobs in West Asia has declined in the past decade, he added: of the 50,000 waiting to go, only 15,000 are women. Irrespective of COVID restrictions, fewer people are now willing to go to West Asia for work. According to ALFEA figures, 225,000 workers went to the in 2019. In 2020, the number fell sharply to 50,000, and this year only 23,000 workers have left in the past six months.