By Vyshnavy Velrajh
The Government hopes to repatriate nearly 150 Sri Lankans stranded in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by next week.
Foreign Ministry on COVID-19 Action and Director General East Asia Kandeepan Balasubramaniam told Colombo Gazette that they hope to repatriate the group before next Tuesday (10).
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had issued instructions last Tuesday (03) to repatriate the group within 48 hours.
However, the process was delayed as the Sri Lanka Mission in the UAE was engaged in dealing with the immigration process of the stranded Sri Lankans.
Most of the stranded immigrant workers are to be repatriated from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and are placed in safe houses in Abu Dhabi. The Sri Lankans have been reported to be without valid documentation or under expired visas.
As a result, the Sri Lankan Mission in the UAE is engaged in resolving issues faced during the immigration process due to these reasons in order to repatriate the group.
Kandeepan Balasubramaniam further said that the most vulnerable among the stranded Sri Lankans have been selected and will be repatriated before next Tuesday (10), adding that as the group is less than one plane load they will be repatriated in one batch.
Army Commander Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, as the Head of the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of COVID-19 (NOCPC), has assured that there were sufficient quarantine centres and treatment facilities to accommodate the group which will be repatriated from the UAE, he said.
Kandeepan Balasubramaniam said more stranded Sri Lankans are waiting to return from the Middle East and will be repatriated in due time, based on the capacity and availability of quarantine centres as instructed by the NOCPC in future.
When inquired by Colombo Gazette on the planned repatriation of the 150 stranded Sri Lankans, Army Commander Shavendra Silva said that the repatriation will be carried out once the Foreign Ministry finalizes the process. (Colombo Gazette)