IOM scales up support for Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 response

Thursday, 25 June 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Major Gen. (Retd) G. A Chandrasiri, Chairman, Airport and Aviation Services Sri Lanka
Mr. Sarat Dash, Chief of Mission of IOM Sri Lanka 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is supporting the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) during the COVID-19 pandemic response through the project ‘Sri Lanka: Technical Assistance to the Government to Prepare and Respond to COVID-19’. 

The project aims to support the internal and cross-border coordination of migrant and mobile populations and alleviate associated barriers including inadequate access to credible information, eradicate stigma, discrimination, language barriers faced by them. IOM, being the lead agency within the UN in Sri Lanka supporting Points of Entry (POE), will also render assistance towards the health and border preparedness responses at POE through this project. The project is funded by the Government of Japan and is in line with the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plans (SPRP) of the GoSL.

Under the components including support to POE focusing on both health and border components and various other risk communication and community engagement activities primarily for migrants, IOM, with support from Government of Japan, procured and delivered several equipment and supplies at the Bandaranaike International Airport.

It included eight health inspection and interview counters, 50 full-duplex counter communication system for immigration counters, four temperature screening thermal sensor camera systems, and 15 hand-held medical infrared thermometers. 

Protective equipment and materials like KN95 masks, disposable three ply non-woven surgical masks, disposable PPE overalls, examination gloves, alcohol hand rub sanitisers, disposable face shields and reusable surgical boots were also donated. Three additional temperature screening thermal sensor camera systems and 10 mobile passport reader kits with necessary accessories for remote passenger clearance are being procured with assistance from the Government of Australia.

“Preparedness at the Point of Entry is crucial for the revival of economic activities in the country including tourism. IOM feels privileged to be a part of this initiative, and we are grateful to the Government of Japan and Government of Australia for their generous support,” said IOM Sri Lanka Chief of Mission Sarat Dash. 

Speaking at the event, AASL Chairman Maj. General (Rtd) G.A. Chandrasiri said, “Ever since the COVID-19 virus began to threaten the whole world as a pandemic, our aviation industry too was severely affected. As the civil airport operator, Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd. (AASL) took every possible measure at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) to minimise the impact. I take this opportunity to convey my sincere thanks to IOM for their invaluable contribution by donating enhanced health screening equipment and other supplies worth Rs. 45 million for the use of the BIA. We have collectively worked hard to establish health and safety measures at the airport according to the guidelines of Sri Lanka health authorities. We as the airport operator can now say very confidently that we are ready to reopen the airport for international passengers at any time.”

Earlier this month, with the assistance from the Government of Japan, IOM handed over 100 Public Addressing Systems to the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Indigenous Medical Services. 

Procured at the cost of Rs. 5 million, the systems will be used by the MoH to disseminate health information across the island. Risk communication materials focused on quarantine messages for returnee migrants and on safe shopping for display at grocery stores both for the shop owners and customers, designed and printed under the project, were also handed over in a special function arranged at the MoH.

“As we move towards relaxing the curfew, it is extremely important that the public are constantly reminded of the precautions they need to take in their private or professional life. We greatly appreciate the support provided and the equipment support is timely and in line with the priorities of the Ministry,” said Minister for Health Pavithra Devi Wanniarachchi.