While saying that they were able to repatriate around 2,400 Sri Lankans since January 2021, the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Riyadh and the Consulate General in Jeddah said they have yet a growing waiting list of another 1,800 people.
In a statement, the Embassy said it has prioritized the most vulnerable categories, such as people who need urgent medical attention, students and the elderly to be included in the flights.
“We are astonished by the number of people who have contacted the Embassy with life-threatening illnesses such as cardio-vascular deceases and cancer. We are trying our best to accommodate them on available flights. During the month of February, we were able to accommodate segments of Sri Lankans from the Saudi deportation camps, jails etc. Many people want to go through government-sponsored quarantine facilities and are waiting until they get an opportunity” Charge d’Affairs of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Riyadh Madhuka Wickramarachchi said.
“Some of the male workers who have lost their jobs during the COVID 19 peak period have now found some substitute work. Most of the workers who had lost their jobs are from the ‘semi-skilled’ category, such as bartenders, waiters, helpers, construction assistants etc. This has to some extent lessen the stress from the Embassy,” Mr. Wickramarachchi.
“Nevertheless, at present, we could see that new recruitments are slowly rebounding. In the months of January and February 2349 individuals had left Sri Lanka heading to Saudi Arabia for employment. 32 % of them are under various ‘skilled’ categories, which is a notable development and a trend that we could be pleased about. The portion of housemaids is at 38%. This is mainly, on one hand, due to the high demand for Female Domestic Workers and on the other hand, the most lucrative job category for those who are engaged in the recruitment business. From the total departures, 40% could be considered as ‘circular migrants’ who return to KSA for a second or third time”, he added.