200 Sri Lankans stranded in Seychelles due to COVID-19 to fly home Monday
The last repatriation flight from Seychelles carrying 250 Sri Lankans was in June on board a SriLankan Airlines flight. (Seychelles Nation)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Around 200 Sri Lankan nationals stranded in Seychelles will be repatriated on Monday, a representative of the Sri Lankan High Commission said.
The Sri Lankan chargé d'affaires, Tharushi Gunathilake, told SNA on Wednesday that the group will include several dozen Sri Lankans who sent a video to an international news channel claiming that their service contracts had ended but because of COVID-19 they were stranded in Seychelles.
"This video has come to our attention. We are trying to assist these workers as much as we can. It is to be noted that there are more than 25,000 Sri Lankans that have been left stranded around the world. The country is looking at those in most vulnerable countries," said Gunathilake.
According to Sri Lankan broadcasting channel News 1st, the group stated that they completed their two-year contract period in Seychelles in early 2020 and were left stranded for almost six months with zero repatriation flights available.
The last repatriation flight from Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, carrying 250 Sri Lankans, was in June on board a SriLankan Airlines flight.
Gunathilake said that in order to be repatriated the nationals have to register with the Sri Lankan High Commission first.
Most of the Sri Lankan expatriates being repatriated are working in the construction, fisheries and tourism sectors.
Meanwhile, the Department of Employment established a new process in August to be followed by employers wishing to renew the Gainful Occupation Permit (GOP) of their non-Seychellois workers.
In a recent interview, Employment Minister Myriam Telemaque said that "employers have to address a letter to the Principal Secretary of employment and have to justify why they need their non-Seychellois workers back. Employers need to inform the ministry on their number of expatriate workers and those that they want to keep."
The employment department said there are around 17,000 expatriate workers in Seychelles; currently over 5,000 are abroad.