The Sri Lankan Consulate in Saudi Arabia has denied allegations that it had failed to assist Sri Lankans in distress in the country.
Sri Lanka’s Consul General Dr. Adambawa Uthumalebbe told the Saudi Gazette that the consulate has helped many legal workers in distress from the insurance scheme, which was implemented by the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) in partnership with the International Social Security Program (ISSP).
Dr. Adambawa was responding to complaints by a few Sri Lankan workers published in a section of the Arabic press that the mission in Saudi Arabia is refusing to provide them air-tickets. He explained that the SLBFE takes care of the interests of only legal foreign workers.
“The bureau insists on insurance for every legal worker, from which we can claim the ticket money if any Sri Lankan needs it to travel back home,” Dr. Adambawa said, adding, “We have used this recourse for many and have been helpful to all workers who have come for our help.”
An insurance agreement signed in Colombo in March this year covers all legal migrant domestic workers in Saudi Arabia. The insurance scheme not only looks after the workers but their employers as well by covering possible losses incurred in case of wrong doings by the worker.
The consul general said, “We have issued 9,500 out-passes for those who are seeking to leave the country, and are assisting them to get fingerprinted on the allotted day — Monday — so they can proceed on their onward journey.”
“Most of those seeking to exit the Kingdom are runaway and illegal workers, who have come to us just for out-passes so they can leave the country. We are trying our best to complete the process before the end of the grace period, but the authorities here are facing a heavy load and are taking time to complete the process,” he said.
Many of these undocumented workers tell us that they can manage their own tickets, Dr. Adambawa said.
“There, however, is a issue that we cannot resolve. Those seeking to leave the country but have come to Jeddah for that purpose from Riyadh and Dammam, will need to go back to the place of origin,” he said.
The Saudi Gazette reported that a dozen Sri Lankan workers are camping out in front of their consulate, seeking to rectify their status before the end of the amnesty.