Cargo flights to bring down Sri Lankans | Sunday Observer

Cargo flights to bring down Sri Lankans

28 June, 2020

The Government has begun to use the cargo flights of the national carrier to bring down Sri Lankans in small clusters with commodities from other parts of the world to expedite the Covid-19 repatriation, a Foreign Ministry official said.

Cargo flights of the national carrier fly to 19 cities in 13 countries - 35 per month. Therefore, the Government and the Foreign Ministry will use cargo flights to expedite Covid-19 repatriation, apart from the commercial and charter flights, he said.

About 53,000 Sri Lankans from 117 countries have called upon the Government to repatriate them to their motherland due to the Covid-19 global pandemic.

The Presidential Secretariat and the Task Force on Covid-19, have repatriated around 11,000 Sri Lankans from 40 countries from last February 2, he said. The Foreign Ministry will repatriate them in keeping with the resource facilities in the health sector, quarantine centres and the airport. Most returnees are unemployed, he said. Students, pilgrims, seafarers, short term visitors and many others have been brought back to the country on compassionate grounds.

Many have been repatriated from India and the Maldives, while many Sri Lankans have returned from the UK, Singapore, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Japan, Africa, Seychelles, Madagascar, Kuwait, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

Thirty foreign travellers were tested positive for Covid-19 and 17 Sri Lankans died in other countries due to the pandemic.

Last week’s Cabinet meeting headed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa discussed the Covid-19 repatriation.

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardana had told the Cabinet that the Ministry will deploy ten flights from June 24 to July 7 to repatriate Sri Lankans from 10 other countries.

The Foreign Ministry has received funds over Rs 42.6 million for Sri Lanka Missions to provide dry rations, basic medicines, safety equipment and safe transportation to vulnerable segments in the Middle East and other countries. Steps have also been taken to send 5,000 bags with dry rations and medicines worth Rs 15.5 million to the Maldives, UAE and Qatar where there is a shortage of goods and difficulty in purchasing dry rations.

Sri Lankan Missions have made diplomatic representations to meet the needs of Sri Lankans overseas and maintain continuous contact with them. The Ministry will provide services from the nearest Sri Lankan Diplomatic Missions in countries where there are no Sri Lankan missions.