26 February, 2024


Lankans Stranded In Covid-19 Hit Gulf Reduced To Sleeping In Public Parks – Apathetic Response From Consulate General

By Ruwan Laknath Jayakody

Ruwan Jayakody

Dignity – which forms the basis of the notion of fundamental human rights – is certainly a scarce and luxurious commodity, if, queuing up at Lankan diplomatic missions overseas, waiting to collect their meagre breakfast and lunch in the form of packets of food, relying on the kindness of strangers and their milk of human kindness for their dinner, sneaking into small shops and dingy gas stations to attend to nature calls and keep up a semblance of personal physical hygiene, and having to sleep on the heartlessly hot, humid earth of the grounds of public parks in the playpens of the stinking rich jet-setting leisure class, with the night’s black sky as a blanket, is the fate of Lankans who have migrated to the Gulf in search of greener pastures but have instead have had to face the pestilence of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This is certainly the case in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).      

In President Gotabaya Rajapaksa‘s vision for a reconstructed Sri Lanka’s future titled ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’, the country’s Migrant Workforce in Foreign Employment has been considered under the Chapter on ‘A Productive Citizen and a Happy Family’ as one that “plays a key role in the economy through their remittances”, which it further notes, accounts for a substantial contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product. It goes on to add that the Government “will pay special attention to migrant workers as well as Sri Lankans domiciled abroad.” But alas, with no prospects, dwindling personal reserves and limited potential owing to being mostly “unskilled”, the migrant workforce, a pillar of the domestic economy, is no longer, playing “a key role in the economy through their remittances”. They have been declared insolvent. Liquidation looms. The only remittance that remains as one that they can put up as collateral is their fragile and woe begotten, plagued by suffering, human frames. In short, the asset has now become a burden. Despite being hemmed in by the restrictions imposed on permanent final solutions such as genocidal termination, a solution has to be found to this thorn – the stranded migrant worker community seeking repatriation – that will not morph into a bird in the hand. Enter the pitiless eugenics of Sri Lanka’s so called homegrown foreign policy, from which nonalignment, migrant workers have been made unaligned and now uncoupled.    

Meena Sathi, a United Kingdom trained academic (gender, poverty and development) who is presently domiciled in Dubai and is currently occupied as an activist cum volunteer assisting the migrant worker community stranded there, said that literally over hundreds of such persons including well over 100 Sri Lankan men and women, with various visa statuses (visit, work and resident, with persons who fall within the definition of the latter two categories also losing their jobs in the wake of COVID-19), have been mired in and experiencing such depravation and degradation for weeks on end, while languishing at a few public parks near the Lankan Consulate such as that in Jafiliya which has no toilets let alone the bare essentials of basic sanitation and health care facilities, and no sleeping mattresses made available for its non-arboreal inhabitants. In the backdrop of the ever present societal fear of COVID-19, she noted that, when they go to relieve themselves at toilets in small shops and gas stations, they are scolded for being potential carriers of the said plague. As far as food and drink is concerned, while the Consulate supplies food packets for breakfast and lunch, those stranded claim that they do not receive their dinner from the Consulate despite the Consulate stating otherwise. Dinner is generally provided by charitable volunteer groups and organizations, she added. Further, those stranded have to make their way to the Consulate to obtain the said meals, she further noted. To add to this misery, there is no proper accommodation for them, and the public parks, she noted, despite a proscription on females being allowed to stay out in the open overnight, have been their home away from home for some time. Sathi however noted that the Dubai Police were quite helpful and constantly requested those stranded to seek assistance from their relevant countries foreign diplomatic missions.    

The apathetic and lackadaisical attitude of the Consulate officials with regard to repatriation requests too came under fire from Sathi who claimed that while she had sent a list containing the names of a group of 32 stranded Lankans to be noted down in the list maintained by the Consulate of persons seeking repatriation, to a female officer at the Consulate via Whatsapp on 6 October, her phone had shown a notification that it was only on 9 October that the said message had been viewed by the officer in question. 

“The Consul General is nowhere to be seen and no officer is coming out of the Consulate premises and talking to the people. I had to raise the volume of voice in order to get some attention (Sathi has visited the Consulate on several occasions, the latest being on 9 October). They question as to who we are and why we are intervening in this regard and maintain that they would seek our assistance if required. What is implied is that we should not interfere to help. They are not running any repatriation flights. They claim that they don’t have funds from the Sri Lankan Government and that the borders are closed and that they don’t have sufficient facilities to accommodate them for the quarantine. Millionaires don’t need these flights. They should prioritize those stuck on the street without money, jobs, a plane ticket and hope of going back to Sri Lanka. Their plight is being ignored. Is it alright for them to die here?” Sathi queried from the relevant Lankan authorities.                

The Consulate General was not available for comment. 

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  • 5

    ” Despite being hemmed in by the restrictions imposed on permanent final solutions such as genocidal termination, a solution has to be found to this thorn – the stranded migrant worker community seeking repatriation – that will not morph into a bird in the hand. “ If the milking age is over cut the cows for a feast!
    After building the Sharia University, Hezbollah has 3000 cores in his hand (bank account). Old King, who deposited $18B in foreign banks (reported that Dubai banks alone $5B), wondered the lands Rishard grabbed from Mullaithivu displaced community. Hakeem is in full swing forcing back Muslim community left Jaffna. They all are working with Younger Brother Prince to make Eastern Province as Tamils-less province in the coming election. Hezbollah wants blood bath if North East merged. Why can’t they take this problem to their bosses? In those migrant working community, a large number is Up Country Tamils. Those politicians, both sides UNP-SLFP, from 1972 are using the salary increase for estate workers to get their votes. But they don’t talk these matters in parliament. A massive Chinese entourage came into country without any checkups. They promised to defeat any action on the Mullaithivu Genocide in UN and UNHRC.

    • 0

      Repeating the lie told by Mangala. Rajitha said he knows where this money is and sent a team to bring that money. The team had a nice time with tax payers’ money and returned empty handed. You still believe lies bombarded by ‘Regime Change’ mafia.

      “Old King, who deposited $18B in foreign banks”

      Malabar Vellala Tamil politicians did not utter a single word supporting salary increase to Tamils in tea plantations. They are only concerned about obtaining compensation for Tamils in the North affected by Tamil terrorism.

      “Those politicians, both sides UNP-SLFP, from 1972 are using the salary increase for estate workers to get their votes. But they don’t talk these matters in parliament.”

    • 0

      Minister of Health Paviththra Wanniarachchi told in the Parliament that the Chinese delegation had their PCR test in China as well as in Sri Lanka. She also explained why they were not quarantined.

      “A massive Chinese entourage came into country without any checkups.”
      Chinese do not have to defeat any action on the Mullaithivu Genocide in UN and UNHRC because now the International Community knows that this is a lie fabricated by Tamil Diaspora to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka Armed Forces that eliminated Tamil terrorists who slaughtered Sinhalayo for three decades. Tamil Diaspora cannot fool the International Community all the time.

      “They promised to defeat any action on the Mullaithivu Genocide in UN and UNHRC.”

  • 5

    Surely they will have someone else to contact who has an email to propagate their plight, to Sri Lankans
    in Sri Lanka and all the SL Media. At least won’t this article be published in so-called SB SL Papers – has H.E. given verbal instructions not to via his Cir-key-liar mode?

  • 12

    Gota uttered other day that earning FX is not important what is important is the welfare of the people in the ME…and action should be taken to bring back every one to ASAP.

    I thought what ever Gota utters becomes law and should be implemented immediately,

    what happened in this case?

  • 7

    Sad sorry shitty of them all Lanka must be one of the few nations on this planet who are ignoring the sad plight of their citizens who have had to venture to the middle east along with other nations to do menial lowest of them jobs to keep their home fires burning.
    One cannot ignore that the inward monetary remittances from these poverty-stricken souls make up as the highest foreign exchange earner.
    The present family of autocratic rulers are only keen to set up a new draconian constitution to continue cheating and robbing the funds that rightly should go into the pockets of these poor folks who are living in a worse situation than even the stray animals/beasts.
    Nations like India, Philippines a few African nations have chartered aircraft and ships to bring back their stranded gentry.
    Sad to note that a Buddhist country is willfully going against all the teachings/precepts of the good Lord Buddha and have well known to allow the now closed airports to function only to receive the monied well to do to go back to their homes.

    • 6

      As Lanka has no cash to feed it’s domestic citizens the mighty rajapuka’s conveniently are of the view that if these folks come back home the onus will be on the ruling government to feed, provide shelter and provide all the amenities.
      The cussed selfish only thinking about their happiness rajapuka’s just doing not walk down that path to give comfort and relief to the good innocent folk who by their sweat and toil has brought in the much-needed foreign dollars which has enabled the likes of them to lead comfortable rosy lives.
      One cannot forget a few moons ago the youngest son of mahindapuka was attempting to get to the moon using state funds but luckily for the 26 million citizens it was all farts and no shit.

  • 8

    This category of “Slave Trade” was victoriously termed “RATA VIRUVO” (next to Rana Virorvo) by our Governments then and now, because of the much needed “Foreign Currency” remittances. A few days back, I saw how another “Viyath Maga” stalwart an and “Advisor” at “Top Level”, Mr. Ajith Cabral boastfully declaring that the “Foreign Remittances” from expatriates have appreciably been high during the period of “COVID 19”. He “knows”, but doesn’t want to explain how that has and is happening. The majority of these “Rata Viruvo” have already lost their jobs and are compelled to return home. In that scenario, they are also compelled to “Repatriate” the balances in their accounts I know of a family who worked for a major airline for 30 years, lost their respective jobs, and had no alternative but to repatriate the funds lying to their credit (savings & severance package money) and those funds are also accounted as “Foreign Remittances). This “Advisor” (cohort) of Rajapkses has no other job than to boast of “Foreign Remittances”. I am sure these “remittances” plus another “Foreign” currency “Loan” (from China) would have made provision to pay the “Loan plus Interest” that fell due last month. How long are they going to live with this type of fallacy? Not long, because those returning “Rata Viruvo” would swell the “Unemployment” figures in the country.

  • 3

    CT has carried a number of trivial and hollow, “verbal diarrhea” type of articles recently. But this article is meaningful and tells a real story that carries punch.
    The local PHI told me that only a limited number of “free” quarantine places are available, as opposed to the hotels where travelers pay to be quarantined. So, the govt is not keen to repatriate broke Middle East workers who will have to be flown home for free, and quarantined for “free”. Now that they are jobless and broke, these workers are expendable.

  • 3

    Kudos to Ruwan Jayakody for this very revealing and poignant article, which brings out and contrasts both the plight of these poor victims and the indifference of the authorities so starkly.

    As long as the pathetic migrant goose is laying the gilded egg, she is feted by the opportunistic government (who would even spend lavishly to ferry them across to Lanka to vote), but when the going gets tough, the tough leader goes into hiding and the government cowers in fear.

    Go Gota, go Dinesh Gunawardena, go Jayanath Colombage, go MaRa, you mean, worthless turds.

    Shame on GOSL, shame on the Foreign Ministry, and shame on the Emirates leadership for treating these unfortunate people so heartlessly.

  • 1

    So we USE them to get their remittances coming in to boost our revenue, so that the country can survive, and now we ABUSE them by not fighting hard to help these poor people get back into the country. Show some compassion and have pity on these suffering people, for Goodness sake, they are Sri Lankans, and if our Government won’t help, who will?

  • 3

    This is the curse of nationalism. It cherishes some abstract thing called the ‘nation,’ but doesn’t care a damn about one’s own people.

  • 1

    Welcome to nation of splendor and prosperity. Today GR thanked the visiting Chinese diplomats by recollecting “his THIRTEEN or so visits to China to become a president”. Goes to show who decides the outcome of our elections. China in turn promised GR , to save Lanka in Geneva. That may be a reason our govt has decided to dump the unemployed where ever they are now. The same govt encourages Chinese to come over and take up jobs, in contracts financed by them.

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