Help pours in for stranded Sri Lankans who sought refuge at Dubai park | Daily News

Help pours in for stranded Sri Lankans who sought refuge at Dubai park

DUBAI: After weeks of waiting, respite has arrived for a group of stranded Sri Lankan nationals, who took refuge in a Dubai community park.

Desperately awaiting repatriation home, the stranded job-seekers and those on expired visas are being screened by officials at the Sri Lankan diplomatic mission and the Sri Lankan Welfare Mission Sahana to move them into shelters.

This is the second time a group of stranded Sri Lankans has taken refuge at Al Hudaiba Community park since September this year. The group also includes 10 women and is being helped by Sahana and residents in the area.

“They will be moved into safe homes and shelters earliest by tomorrow (Thursday). The women will be given priority. The mission is screening them because (some) ... have accommodation and means to survive, but have resorted to staying in the park to get priority on the return flight to Colombo,” said Vishwa Thilakarathna, a board member with Sahana.

“We are providing them with boxes of food, water and other essential supplies on a daily basis.

The most deserving ones will be moved to the shelters after the screening,” he added.

Sri Lankan Consul General in Dubai Nalinda Wijerathna told Khaleej Times in an earlier interview that the mission-sponsored shelters can accommodate only 160 people at a given time.

“Due to Covid-19 triggered restrictions, the airport in Sri Lanka is closed and this has slowed down repatriation efforts,” he said.

A total of 267 Sri Lankans flew home on Tuesday, thanks to the support from the mission, the Sri Lankan Business Council, Sahana, and Indian businessman T.N. Krishnakumar. Following Khaleej Times reports that highlighted the plight of these stranded Sri Lankans awaiting repatriation, Krishnakumar came forward to support them by providing 10 air tickets to Colombo. He said: “The tickets were provided to the group that departed on Tuesday at10.55pm. We gave a total of 10 tickets to those who could not afford it. We are willing to provide more tickets wherever necessary.” According to Wijerathna, at any given time, only 7,000 international returnees can be placed in government quarantine centres in the island country. Since the outbreak, over 9,200 Sri Lankans have been repatriated from the UAE.

(Khaleej Times)