Written by Zulfick Farzan
28 Jul, 2020 | 7:30 pm
Colombo (News 1st); Multiple factions have condemned the tear gas attack on a group of unemployed Sri Lankan migrant workers in Jordan, by Jordanian security forces.
Tear gas was fired on the migrant workers following failed talks with Sri Lankan Embassy officials which resulted in a tense situation.
The Sri Lankan migrant workers claim they’ve been making requests to be repatriated for almost 04 months, however, the Sri Lankan Embassy has been asking for more time.
As a solution was not provided, the group who were employed at the Jordanian City of Al Karak and later terminated from employment due to COVID-19, decided to meet the embassy officials.
However, the embassy had informed the migrant workers, it would send its personnel to meet them and discuss issues.
Three embassy staffers had arrived and later attempted to leave amidst the issues highlighted by the Sri Lankan migrant workers.
It was then, Jordanian Security Forces fired tear gas the migrant workers, and 20 of them were immediately hospitalized due to respiratory difficulties.
These migrant workers say they were terminated from their places of employment on the 17th of March and since then have been living on two meals a day, with no fixed date to be repatriated to Sri Lanka.
The Embassy in a statement on the incident at the Camel and Wega factory in Karak, Jordan said the Labour Staff of the Embassy of Sri Lanka who visited the Camel and Wega factory in Karak to look into the welfare of Sri Lankan migrant workers were held hostage for over five hours by a section of the migrant workers who are unemployed requesting they be immediately repatriated to Sri Lanka.
It added the Jordanian Police had been called in to defuse the situation at the factory and for the Embassy officials to be released.
The statement went on to note Embassy officials had distributed 375 dry ration and toiletry packs at the same factory on 22 July 2020.
However, a Sri Lankan migrant worker in Jordan claimed the embassy was not revealing the truth adding they only received a relief pack after 05 months.
National People’s Power Candidate Sunil Handunnetti speaking on the matter said the innocent women who bring a great amount of foreign exchange to Sri Lanka are struggling to survive in the Middle East and he reprimanded the Sri Lankan government of its handling of the matter.
He said the Sri Lankan Government had used the Jordanian Police to follow its system of firing tear gas on people.
According to statistics from the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, there are over 1.2 Million Sri Lankans employed overseas and they generated a revenue of 07 Billion US dollars in 2019.
Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage, the Additional Secretary to the President for Foreign Relations said following the incident at the Kandakadu Treatment and Rehabilitation Center the Government was forced to suspend its repatriation program.
“When there are more openings at quarantine facilities in the country, we will be able to resume the repatriation process,” said Admiral Colombage adding Sri Lankans would be repatriated from Dubai on the 31st of July and 01st of August.
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