The Foreign Ministry will continue facilitating repatriations without any financial burden on Sri Lankans, the Foreign Secretary asserted responding to misinformation in the public domain.
Secretary Jayanath Colombage made it clear that the role of the Missions is strictly confined to organizing repatriation flights for returnees who are tested on arrival, offered all logistical support and are quarantined at Government facilities free of charge.
The returnees are drawn from the list of overseas Sri Lankans registered in the Missions and Posts and repatriated depending on their vulnerability levels and on a “first come first serve basis”.
Foreign Employment Bureau and their representatives are working with our missions on the safe return of the expatriate working community on the same basis in relation to availability of flights and clearance by Airport Authorities in the relevant countries.
The number of passengers who are permitted to travel per day, however, is determined by the Task Force chiefly based on a periodical appraisal and inputs provided by the Army in charge of quarantine centres and the Ministry of Health which is entrusted with the task of implementing health guidelines.
In circumstances where the local quarantine and medical care facilities are fully stretched, repatriation on payment basis becomes an option for those returnees who could afford such facilities.
Charter flights for overseas Sri Lankans are approved and organized through Sri Lanka Missions on the request of Sri Lankan community groups who prefer paid quarantine, testing and other logistical arrangements involved in the repatriation process.
Cargo flights and a few selected commercial flights are also approved by the Ministry for repatriation, a third type of facilitation offered to relatively small groups of passengers who could afford to pay for quarantine and other requirements involved and a maximum of 75 passengers per flight are permitted as per the latest directive of the Covid Task force.
The General Sales Agents (GSA) of respective Air Lines have been authorized to deal with the passengers on charges of Air tickets, PCR tests and quarantining and the Diplomatic Missions have not been mandated to handle payments whatsoever concerning the travel requirements except for extremely special cases of requests for such facilitation.
As the pandemic situation remains fluid and unpredictable a regular re-appraisal is undertaken, based on which the process of repatriation is periodically reviewed.