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Thousands of Migrant workers stranded in the Gulf States

Economy Next, Arab, 15 March 2021 - Almost a year after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many Sri Lankan migrant workers remain stranded mostly in the Gulf States with little or no money, a lot of health issues and premature job terminations while social media reports claimed that these workers are neglected by the local missions in host countries.

Meenu Sethi, who goes by the name @Meenu_2304 on Twitter highlighted the plight of Sri Lankan and other migrant workers on her Twitter feed.

When ECONOMYNEXT reached out to her, she said, “as of now a lot of people(Sri Lankans) do not have any accommodation or food and there is no definite date as to when they can go home because there are only two repatriation flights (SriLankan Airlines flight) which let you do government quarantine, and the rest are paid quarantine.”

Sethi, works closely with some of the stranded migrant workers in the UAE. She has experience in social development, with a special focus on immigration-related issues, poverty, and gender empowerment.

She is a gender, poverty, and development scholar.

“The main difference in the way Sri Lankan Consulate and the other embassies such as Nigerian and Ghanaian embassies which I have been to is that they give more clarity when someone requests for information whereas in the Sri Lankan Consulate they make you go here and there and wouldn’t give priority to people who medical conditions,” Sethi explained.

“It seemed as if the authorities I dealt with here were in a way frustrated with the situation and they seemed not that willing to help, this is not only my experience but the experience of a lot of other people” she added.

“There is this whole aspect where things could have been handled much better, the human touch was lacking.”

“We would always see huge queues outside the embassy and they would not let them enter. With the ambiguity of information that comes from the consulate, people would know nothing even after queuing for hours.

“There was a person who had undergone a major surgery and yet he was refused to be on the repatriation list 9 times. A local police officer finally came on board to support this person and after he made a few phone calls to the Sri Lankan Consulate this person was finally put on the repatriation list.”

However, the official at Sri Lanka’s Bureau of Foreign Employment said that they are aware about it and are working to help the people even though there are lapses due to mission’s office being closed to visitors.



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