In a fresh attempt to expedite repatriation of Sri Lankan migrant workers awaiting to return to the country, Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) has selected 10 private sector hotels and guest houses as quarantine centres to provide quarantine facilities for additional 571 migrant workers, the Labour Ministry announced yesterday.
Recently, Labour Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva instructed SLBFE to implement a programme to expedite repatriation of migrant workers who remain stranded abroad by getting private sector tourism establishments on board, considering the limited space in quarantine centres operated by the government.
As the initial stage of the programme, SLBFE has chosen Jagabay Resort Weligama, Neptune Paradise Beach Resort, Hikka FnR Villa, Coral Reef Guest, Blue Spring Hotel in Wadduwa, Villa Jayananda in Dikwella, Catamaran Beach Hotel in Negombo, Jayanthi Surf in Ahangama and Santon Resort in Tangalle with the approval of COVID-19 task force.
The ministry noted that quarantine facilities, food and other services would be provided by SLBFE free-of-charge to returning migrant workers.
SLBEF, which runs on funds of migrant workers, is estimated to spend Rs.18 million on a weekly basis in providing quarantine facilities for migrant workers. On a daily basis, the average cost is estimated at Rs.4500 per person and returning migrant workers are expected to stay for one week in these centers.
SLBEF has already instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Sri Lankan missions to take measures to repatriate the country’s migrant workers in respective countries under the new initiative.
After examining the success of this initiative, Minister de Silva has advised the SLBEF to establish more quarantine centers to further increase the pace of repatriation of migrant workers back to the country.
SLBEF estimates 20,000-30,000 such migrant workers are awaiting to return to the country, however, the country’s foreign employment agencies estimate the number to be much higher.
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