Lankans have no desire to return home - SLBFE | Sunday Observer
Violence in Gaza

Lankans have no desire to return home - SLBFE

23 May, 2021

The Sri Lankan mission in Israel continues to function and maintain contacts with the Lankan workers in that country and so far none have expressed a desire to return home, a senior official of the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLFEB) said.

He said at present there is are estimated 5,300 Sri Lankan workers registered with the Bureau in Israel and most of them are in the service sector such as health workers.

“Earlier we sent employees to work in the agriculture sector but that agreement is no longer in effect,” he said.

He said despite the escalation in violence in the region, none of the Sri Lankan workers have so far reached out to the consular services seeking help to return home.

“Sri Lanka has no formal ties with Palestine to send workers there, therefore, there are no official records of any Sri Lankans living there,” the official said.

The Sri Lankan mission in Israel has provided guidelines that should be followed during air raids and a hotline has been set up to contact the mission in an emergency.

Sri Lankans living in Israel have been posting videos on social media describing how they were forced to rush into air raid shelters. They have also added that their employers have also protected them.

Meanwhile in a media release issued on Monday the Foreign Ministry said, “Sri Lanka remains deeply concerned over the escalation of violence between Palestine and Israel.”

The statement further said, “The Foreign Minister has already conveyed to the Ambassador of Palestine Sri Lanka’s deep concern over the situation and the interest to protect the rights and the lives of the people of Palestine.”

“Sri Lanka urges all parties to cease the conflict and restore peace and to take steps to avoid any risk of a threat of instability to the wider region that is likely to arise from the ongoing developments.”

Earlier, Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapksa, a long-time supporter of the Palestinian cause and the Founder President of the Sri Lanka Committee for Solidarity with Palestine said: “For a durable solution to the Palestine question, it is imperative to recognise the legitimate and sensitive security concerns of both the Palestinian and Israeli people.”

The PM said that it was his sincere belief that the Israeli-Palestinian region, the Holy Land is sacred to people of many faiths from around the world, in fact to all of humanity. Therefore, he appealed to both sides to show restraint and de-escalate hostilities and commence negotiations for a ceasefire.