Repatriation flights rescheduled indefinitely

By Easwaran Rutnam

The Government says it has been compelled to reschedule all repatriation flights in light of the latest coronavirus outbreak.

Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage told Colombo Gazette that the repatriation flights of Sri Lankans living overseas have not been suspended, but instead have been rescheduled.

The decision has been taken due to quarantine centres and hospitals reaching full capacity following the detection of the Minuwangoda COVID-19 cluster, he said.

The new dates of the rescheduled flights will be announced in due time and depending on the developments surrounding the latest coronavirus outbreak, Admiral Jayanath Colombage added.

As at 27 May, 42,522 persons from 123 countries sought to return to Sri Lanka. Of these, migrant workers amounted to 34,881 of which 20,893 were living in the Middle East, while 4,961 were short term visa holders, and 2,016 were students.

Since then hundreds have returned to Sri Lanka but more people have sought assistance to come back.

In July the Government had temporarily suspended the repatriation process after it ran short of space to quarantine the returnees.

However, the process resumed later with the spread of the coronavirus situation being brought under control.

The Minuwangoda situation has forced the authorities to suspended the repatriation process again as the quarantine centers are full. (Colombo Gazette)