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Lankans ‘stranded’ in Iraq

2 April 2011 04:01 pm - 5     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


A group of former Sri Lankan soldiers say they are stranded in a remote village in Iraq as their employer failed to pay their salaries for nearly 16 months.

Lalith Kumara de Silva, a member of the group of 41 former soldiers, told BBC Sandeshaya that they arrived in Iraq as private security officers for a Lebanese company involved in a construction project in Al-Amra, some 600-700km away from the capital, Baghdad.

The group of 41 retired Sri Lankan soldiers received working visa to Iraq after another Sri Lankan working in the company arranged them contracts, he said.

A security firm registered with the Iraq government, Night Bird, has issued them with official identity cards –from Ministry of Internal Affairs - after checking their qualifications.

“Even yesterday, they sent two people without paying their arrears. They were only given $100 each,” he said.

The company owes each individual more than $18,000 in salary arrears, according to Lalith Kumara de Silva.

“We were paid our salaries for few months but our employer stopped paying us after the government ended the contract as it could not meet the deadline in the housing project,” he told BBC Sinhala service.

The former Sri Lanka soldiers said an official from the Sri Lankan embassy in Lebanon, WM Premaratne, is negotiating with their employers and promised to settle the missing payments by the end of the month.

All the employees in the housing project, said de Silva, are told not to move out of the camp due to security reasons.
“Since we came to Al-Samara we have never gone out of this camp.”

As a result of the construction project going bust, the Sri Lankan employers are not even provided with food for the last week, according to Lalith de Silva.

“We are now given food by the people in the surrounding villages. And we get water from a nearby canal.”

  Comments - 5

  • sena Saturday, 02 April 2011 04:41 PM

    Our Dear heros, What ever dollars you have please send them to SL because our politicians and officials need to import petrol for their cars

    hiru Saturday, 02 April 2011 06:15 PM

    you task is to go suffer overseas,and send every penny you make to SL,so that the politicians can lead a luxurious life.

    Darwin Sunday, 03 April 2011 04:19 AM

    It is you that went there on your own wish. Now do the same and come back.

    asoka abeywardena Sunday, 03 April 2011 05:24 AM

    Dear brothers, when they failed to pay in the first two months what did you do...just continue working...and when they failed to pay in the third month also what did you do...just work again...? I was in the Middle East for fourteen years and one company tried to do the same with me in the very first month. I am a professional in my field and I stop working till my salary is being paid. I was alone there that time but in your case you have 41 people to help each other and fight for your rights. During my time in Doha (1997) I was having a lot of financial problems back in Sri Lanka but I still proffered to come to my country...Finally they paid me on time till I finished my contract and come to Sri Lanka.

    Sri Lankan Wednesday, 06 April 2011 08:08 AM

    You're not very smart for a person named Darwin.. I think you should change your name to Tweedle dee or tweedle dum..

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