srilanka migrant workers
The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) has announced that it will cover all expenses related to medical, food, transportation and quarantine facilities of migrant workers who are returning home from foreign countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These facilities will be provided to those migrant workers who registered themselves with the SLBFE ahead of their departure to foreign nations for work.
However, lack of space at quarantine centres was one of the major challenges the Ministry of Labour was facing in repatriating migrant workers. In this regard, the ministry directed the SLBFE to set up a system in collaboration with private hotels and resorts to provide free quarantine facilities to migrant workers returning to the country.
“Priority has been given and arrangements have been made to bring back and quarantine Sri Lankan workers that have completed their term of employment and are registered with the Bureau of Foreign Employment at the expense of the Government,” Labour Minister Nimal Siripala Silva said, while speaking to media.
The SLBFE has informed the Labour Minister that 10 privately owned tourist hotels and resorts have been finalised as quarantine centres after approval from the National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO). It has added that more than 500 people can be accommodated in these hotels at a time. Noting that returning workers will have to undergo 7-day mandatory quarantine, the SLBFE has affirmed that all hotel fees, food and other related facilities will be borne by the Foreign Employment Bureau. It is disbursing 8 million rupees a week to provide free quarantine and other facilities to returning workers.
“As a first step, these centres will be set up in about eight districts, and we hope to expand it to other districts to expedite the repatriation of our employees,” Nimal Siripala Silva added.
Several migrant workers remain stranded in Gulf states and other parts of the world after job losses and lack of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Around 38,000 stranded workers have returned to Sri Lanka in recent weeks, while an additional 20,000 are likely to be repatriated soon.