9 August, 2020

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Despite Imposed Ban Selected Sri Lankans Flown Into Colombo From Dubai, Qatar And India

Despite the current ban imposed halting all repatriations of Sri Lankan nationals into the country, three flights arrived into Colombo on the 17th and 18th of July 2020 flying in selected groups of passengers from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and India respectively.

Jayanath Colombage

On the 17th July 2020 an Emirates Airline flight (EK 648) brought in a group of 60 selected passengers from Dubai, whilst media reports confirmed that a further two flights one from Doha (QR 668) and another from India (AI 281) landed on the 18th of July 2020, bringing in more selected Sri Lankan nationals home.

The group of 60 passengers who arrived from Dubai to Colombo are all currently being quarantined at the Amari Hotel in Galle.

Whilst it is an encouraging sign that Sri Lankan nationals were permitted to arrive, it also left a close associate of Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa rather perplexed when questioned about the initial group’s arrival, as even he was not informed that such a private arrangement had been made.

Many expatriates who are also desperate to come to Sri Lanka from the United Arab Emirates when contacted by Colombo Telegraph also said that they were unaware that a flight as such had been arranged and had departed Dubai.

Colombo Telegraph was also made to understand that a group of Sri Lankans who travelled from Egypt to Dubai had also made it to Colombo on the same flight operated by Emirates Airline on the 17th of July 2020.

It is confirmed that a family of three had paid a whopping sum of nearly one million rupees in total to be repatriated from Dubai to Colombo.

The family of three had paid UAE Dhs 18,000, which is approximately over Rs 900,000 to an organizer in Dubai to cover the costs for air fare (Rs 600,000), PCR testing both in Dubai (US $ 300) and also for testing on arrival in Colombo (Rs 48,000 for two tests each) and also for quarantine charges in Sri Lanka (Rs 280,000). They had also paid another sum of approximately Rs 100,000 in fines for overstaying, a levy that the UAE government had introduced to those whose resident visas had been cancelled.

All Sri Lankans who departed from the UAE’s Dubai International Airport were provided with exit passes similar to those that were granted to overstayers in the UAE, during the amnesty periods.

An incoming passenger on this flight when contacted by Colombo Telegraph said that the issuance of an exit pass in this instance raises many questions, as historically passengers who depart the UAE in this manner are blacklisted from re-entering the country.

Another incoming passenger who arrived on the same Emirates Airline flight speaking to Colombo Telegraph on condition of anonymity said “Upon arrival to Sri Lanka we were sprayed with disinfecting chemicals on seven occasions. This is despite all of us obtaining and carrying valid negative PCR test reports prior to leaving Dubai. The PCR testing done upon arrival had authorities take two swabs from each nostril and also a throat swab. We arrived around 11 pm and shortly thereafter we were put in buses to be transported to Galle. The buses were stationary for almost two hours. We needed a drink of water. When we asked the driver if he had any water, we were asked as to why we were not carrying our own water. Then some ladies wanted to use the wash rooms because this recurring two hour delay in the bus and the subsequent ride to Galle was going to take several hours for us to reach the hotel. Sadly the ladies and kids were not permitted to use the toilets. This entire episode was nothing but a living nightmare. This task is being carried out by the Sri Lanka Army. But they seriously lack being able to carry out this task professionally with the civilian population. We were made to feel as if we were bringing the Covid-19 virus to Sri Lanka.”

Meanwhile a very senior Sri Lankan expatriate living in Dubai and who is currently working tirelessly in helping many Sri Lankans, speaking to Colombo Telegraph on condition of anonymity said “In the many years that I have been in the UAE, this is the first time I have seen our own Sri Lankan nationals made destitute in the UAE in such a manner. It is sad to see our own nationals with no place to go. Many of them even slept in parks at night and were taken into custody. Sri Lankans who are fortunate to be still employed have been helping their fellow nationals, as much as they could. The Pakistani government for instance has already repatriated over 120,000 of their own nationals, whilst there are over 10 flights a day that fly Indian nationals back to India. In fact even countries like Ghana in Africa are sending their nationals back home. The Ghanaian Ambassador has been working tirelessly in helping his people. As for us we have a political appointee as our Sri Lankan Ambassador in Malraj De Silva, who happens to be a close buddy of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He implies that he is doing his best to help the Sri Lankans in UAE, but sadly has no results to prove his worth ever since he arrived in the UAE. ‘I am doing only what the government instructs me to do. My hands are tied’. That’s what he says. It is only our government that sadly does not permit our Sri Lankans to go back home. We have over 7000 nationals that need to be repatriated almost immediately and another 20,000 who have lost jobs in the UAE that need to get back. Now they are spending little money they are left with in the UAE, instead of being able to bring it back home with them. This is extremely sad what the government of Sri Lanka is doing to its own nationals who swelled the country’s treasury all these years with their hard earned foreign currency remittances. Many who cannot continue making payments towards their existing bank loans and credit card payments will soon be thrown in jail. Some are in fact having suicidal tendencies. If this happens their blood will certainly be on the hands of the Sri Lankan government. That’s the stark truth and sadly the reality.”

The local daily newspaper in the UAE Khaleej Times publishing a story under the headline ” UAE grants 30 day grace period to expired visit visa holders who don’t exit by August 11″ stated the following ” Brigadier Khamis Al Kaabi, the official spokesman of ICA, had earlier said that those whose visit visa expired after March 1, 2020, will have one month to either change their status inside the country or leave by August 11. He also said that UAE residents with visas that expired after March 1, 2020 will have three months to renew their residency as of July 12. The advisory came after the recent UAE Cabinet decision that cancelled all previously issued resolutions related to the residency of expatriates and validity of visas, entry permits and ID cards. The automatic extension of expired visas and IDs until December this year was withdrawn.

Many expatriate Sri Lankans in the UAE have been thankful towards the UAE government’s support extended during this pandemic.

A Sri Lankan expatriate who was working for a leading bank and had lost his job during this Covid-19 pandemic and who is still stuck in Dubai said “The government of the UAE had all this time been extremely courteous and gracious in extending their kindness, help and support towards the Sri Lankan expatriate workforce. There is a limit that they could do and how much longer does the Sri Lankan government expect the UAE government to look after its own people?”

“Is it because Sri Lanka as a nation wishes to portray to the rest of the world that it has got the Covid-19 pandemic under control, yet wishes to conduct a General Election and for some unknown reason does not wish to permit its own nationals a safe passage back home?” he concluded by saying.

All attempts to contact Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage the Additional Secretary to the President for Foreign Affairs for a comment proved futile. (By Janaka Ranaweera) 

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Latest comments

  • 26
    0

    Looks like these are private charted flights which have been allowed in. There are individuals and groups who have been trying to organize these at great expense because it will be more expensive to survive in Dubai without a job.

    Agree with all the points in this article. The Sri Lankan Govt attitude and the Sri Lankan consulate in UAE have been pathetic and working with ulterior motives mainly targeting to paint a positive picture of COVID status in Sri Lanka and eyeing the General Election. For the sake of all overseas Sri Lankans who are desperately seeking to return back to the country I wish this damn election to be done with soon. After the election miraculously Sri Lanka will have enough space to accommodate all repatriations and tourists… banana republic!

    • 24
      2

      There are whole lot of srilanken people roaming in the cities, make requests about wanting to get back home. They have no big sums in their pockets, but being scared of COVID infections, but the rulers dont care. Why cant they organize flights to get these helpless people getting back home.

      Instead, they seem to be focusing rich srilankens be brought back home. Now RAJAKSHES s real face is exposed. Why cant SLAVEs get this ?

      • 14
        2

        Let alone today, People should realize the ” REAL FACE ” of the Rajapakshes.
        :
        They have no basis, if they want to loot, they would do anything for Money. If such funds would be used for the benefit of the destitutte people, would be fine, but these bastards use them for the luxury life styles of the bastard sons. How come Rohitha be that richt ?
        :
        How come his youngest son is that rich ?
        :
        How come his NAMAL Baby that rich ?

        • 0
          3

          Namal or Rohitha so rich? They are Sinhalese Aryans and belongs to Heladiva (Sri Lanka) How come Sirasa owners be rich? How other Tamil Business people so rich? Are they brought the money from the Moon? They robbed the wealth of the Sinhalese Aryans country, Sri Lanka.

          • 5
            0

            The term Aryans is yet not welcome in modern Germany, but our stupid people dont care but use it on and on.

            NPerera, why you or the like ilk seem to be supporting crimminals further ?

            What right do Namal, Rohitha and Yoshitha possess to live up on the robbed huges sums by his father ?

            Does anyone among them ever work 7/24 to collect that sizable of wealth while leaving poor of the poor in the country no different to the destitute seen in the rural corners of neighbouring india ?

    • 7
      0

      Favorites Only. If there is a need for others it will be considered after the elections.

  • 20
    0

    All these 72 years since independence it was the majority bullying the minorities be it Eurasian Muslim or Tamil.
    Even the difference in religious faith fell victim to these sadistic petty-minded racists.
    =
    As for me, I take the arrival of the coronavirus-19 to be one where the haves especially the government of the day should stand by their own have not fellow citizens especially those who have been forced to leave their motherland to perform menial tasks to provide for their destitute kith and kin back home living in paltry poverty-stricken conditions.
    One should not forget that Lanka being a beggar colony was totally dependent on the inward remittances in foreign currencies to offset the total lack of overseas cash badly needed for its day to day living needs.
    =
    If I was in the shoes of the el-Presidente, I will charter the services of a few passenger-carrying ships to personally call on the respective ports where the citizens are stuck in to be ferried back home at a nominal charge or a free on board basis.
    =
    These seagoing vessels can on a load on load off basis with a continuous change of crew can be economically and successfully be the median to bring back to safety the hapless in penury citizens whose massive monetary contributions should never be forgotten.

    • 4
      0

      Excellent, sj1952.
      .
      I think that you know what I mean. I won’t keep saying that if you discipline your language, but my green thumb will definitely go up.
      .
      “leelagemalli”‘s well-established credibility and sensitivity is wine that needs no bush. However, my own English teacher may be turning in his grave hearing me mixing metaphors so much.

      • 5
        0

        Dear SM,
        apologies for not having phrased it properly before being sent out.This happens to me very often. I did it y day while waiting for my train heading to my hotel. I will try my best not to upset you guys again. Please dont be that harsh. Once you guys made very effort to drive away that good old doctor from London (Dr GS). He could not want to continue with his posts since one Kali called him a demented person.
        If my interpreations would turn out to be that shocking, I will stop adding my post for a long period.
        All the best.! It is actually my mistake not to formulate it properly as always. My posts to CT is usually made while me being on the way. However, I try to add my thoughts and wake up the silent masses. I also try to translate them into Sinhala and post them on CT Sinhala.
        Once again I assure you I will check my post next taking some more time. I am fastidious, I am naive, my posts make you guys laugh – got it. This is too much. All the best !

        • 2
          0

          No, no, dear LM,
          .
          You mistake me! I was criticising my own comment!
          .
          After talking about praise, likening it to putting up a thumb, and the implied reference to traffic lights, I had then compared your words to vintage wine.
          .
          I will come back to explaining all that later.
          .
          Meanwhile, I note that you have taken extra care with your English writing style and accuracy. Not necessary.
          .
          Your intentions are so noble that your writing will always be welcome!

  • 12
    0

    All are equal, but some are more equal than others.

  • 13
    2

    What else can be expected from the Government of war criminal who ordered the killing of surrendered and rape of young civilians and murdered young children.
    They are only keen in winning the election to rob more

    • 1
      0

      Dilshan,
      .
      very correct Dear. See, already 9 months since GOTA s leadership took over that of Joker Sirisena, but what have they achieved for the people ?
      :
      Not even they managed COVID crisis comparably those countries like Myanmar, Vietnam and Nepal. But their self glorifications made every fake-convinced so thatthey would not even think of COVID until they themselves are caught by it.

      In Europe, it has become self-evident today to wear a mask when moving with anyone closely. Nobody is there to ask you to wear it, it has become routinized. I got to know an old german couple as I was waiting for my dinner last night, the both were very uncomfortable with wearing a mask but they thought it should be a must also being outside. I think some people exaggerate in Europe while others do nothing enough to protect themselves.
      :
      So what more talk about a country whose just hearsays become the breaking news of highly abusive TV channels such as the CHEETHTHA TV AKA DERANA TV and Drug Mafia TV aka Hiru TV.
      Both channels do the toilett paper work to the Rajaakshe family for their own commercial gains. If they would cover up only they can achieve their goals, no matter people would have been misled and end up being caught by a Dictatorship.

  • 6
    0

    Particularly in countries like Sri Lanka, some being more equal than others is the norm. Going entirely by your reporting, it appears that the Admiral Professor is conducting a covert operation within the Presidential Secretariat. It seems that he is the one who is calling the shots. It is customary in a bureaucracy, which he is a part of it now in the Presidential Secretariat, to seek instructions from one’s boss on thorny matters, which is recorded in the respective files. It is interesting if one were to make request under RTI how many such instructions has he sought from his boss PBJ what the answer would be. My guess in NONE.

  • 8
    0

    First of all a big thank you for exposing what is going on. Local kept media do not care two hoots. I have made my own inquiries from the local Sri Lankan embassy here is what I have found out. The total number of registered Sri Lankans waiting to come home is around 50,000. The total number who have been repatriated is around only 15,000 over a three month period. The government has declared they will not open the airport for civilian or commercial flights until all those needing repatriation have been returned to the country. At the rate of 5,000 a month this will take the government another 10 months! until April/May 2021. Even though the repatriation flights have been suspended cargo flights are going ahead. On the return trips these cargo flights are being used to bring back about 25 passengers. In addition to the cargo flights there a privately organized charter flights which are also permitted to arrive with private arrangements for quarantine as highlighted in this article..

  • 14
    0

    Now for the rest of what I have to say. The people stranded in UAE etc were once hailed as Ratawiruvo. These people supported and voted lock stock and barrel for the Rajapukshes. Now look at their plight. I hope they open their minds and accept the true nature the people they voted for. Sri lanka is being destroyed by these scoundrels who utterly mismanage everything they touch. I feel terribly sad for Sri Lankans living in the country and those who want to return. I am happy I do not live or ever want to live in this hell hole anymore.

  • 11
    0

    If special breed of dogs from Germany can be flown on special flights, I guess these flights for the privileged is nothing. One standard for the well connected, and another for the unconnected.

    • 2
      0

      Ashan: To complete your story – A “Hand Picked Pilot” was selected to operate that flight. Was “HE” the privileged to be connected to “Rajapakse & Co. Inc.”?

  • 10
    0

    The Sri Lankan ruling class has for many decades been the biggest beneficiary of our women slaves working in the Mid East as they remit the biggest portion of hard currencies used to pay for the imported luxuries the parasites inherit due to political power. Hence, hospitals do not get enough modern equipment or pharmaceuticals made in developed countries and settle for cheap and less effective ones made in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan (for example). If these expatriate slaves are centrally important to the people in power, shouldn’t they feel a sense of obligation to repatriate them when in most need?

    • 3
      0

      Lasantha: You mentioned “expatriate slaves”., You know “SLAVES” have no “CHOICES” and also their “Masters” have no “OBLIGATIONS”. The “Slaves” are a “TOOL” used and abused. The irony is the “SLAVES” don’t realize they are “SLAVES”.

      • 1
        0

        Simon

        Slaves were supposed to be chattels.

  • 4
    0

    I was into my first week of my annual holiday in SL when the curfew was imposed. My return flight was cancelled as the air line was grounded but my travel agent or the air line arranged for me to fly back in a Sri Lankan flight at no extra cost within a few days. The UK govt. urged its citizens abroad to contact the consular services immediately for repatriation & before June, all wishing to return have been brought back. A friend of mine backpacking in Peru was stranded in a remote town, unable to get back to Lima to catch a charter flight back but the UK govt. arranged a RAF flight for him. Of course, as a rich country, UK is able to look after its citizens better but the fact is, the UK foreign service sprung into action as expected while the SL embassies, which are manned mostly with political cronies, seemed to be lost in a time of crisis & the foreign ministry lacking in leadership.

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