68,000 overseas Sri Lankans await repatriation: Govt

Colombo, Jan 4 : Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry has said that an estimated 68,000 overseas nationals were awaiting repatriation due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on Sunday, the Ministry said that it has been carrying out the task of repatriation for almost a year and to date 60,470 Sri Lankans, including pilgrims, students, government or armed forces officials, migrant workers, short term visitors, seafarers and cases on compassionate grounds have been repatriated from abroad, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Over 40,000 migrant workers, predominantly from the Middle East region have been the top segment of overseas workers who have benefited so far whereas another 20,000 Sri Lankans have been brought down from Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin American regions,” the Ministry statement said.

“As the conditions abroad deteriorate and due to a large number of layoffs and other courses of unemployment, the number of prospective returnees keeps rising and currently an estimated 68,000 overseas Sri Lankans from various regions have been wait-listed by the Ministry for repatriation,” it added.

Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage said the latest fortnightly schedule of flights finalised to be operated between January 2 to January 9 will include 1,400 passengers from India, Australia, Kuwait, Qatar, Canada, Cyprus, and the United Arab Emirates.

Due to the discovery of Covid-19 infection clusters in the island nation late last year, Sri Lanka’s overall caseload and death toll have shot up to 44,371 and 211, respectively.

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