By Shezna Shums
Increasing numbers of Sri Lankans are leaving Libya to return to the safely of Sri Lanka, many of whom are even making their way to other countries to get a flight back home.
The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLFEB) last morning recorded over 80 persons who arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).
Thirty Sri Lankans, who had left Libya, gone to Cyprus and then to Jordon, arrived early last morning on a RJ 194 Jordon flight from Jordon.
Later in the morning yesterday another 54 Sri Lankan who had made their way to Malta and then to Dubai arrived on a EK 6050 Etihad flight and arrived at BIA.
In total about 192 Sri Lankans who were working in Libya have fled the country and arrived in Sri Lanka over the course of this week.
The SLFEB stated that another 300 Sri Lankans are still waiting to return from Libya to Sri Lanka, stated the Publicity Unit of the SLFEB.
The figures of returning Sri Lankans are recorded from the SLFEB counter that has been opened and is in operation 24 hours, to accommodate the needs of the people arriving from Libya and other countries to escape the riots and clashes.
In an earlier incident, when 36 Sri Lankans and a few Chinese people had made their way to Greece from Libya, 15 of them had run away from the hotel they were staying in, despite their having their return tickets.
Five of these individuals were caught by the Greek Police, whilst the Greek Government has voiced its disappointment over the incident and said that it may not consider taking on more fleeing Sri Lankans from Libya.
SLFEB Chairman Kinsley Ranawaka was informed by Minister of Foreign Employment and Welfare Dilan Perera that speedy measures should be taken to get back Sri Lankans who are stuck in the Libya.
The bureau also stated that it would pay for the transport undertaken by Sri Lankans who have to make their way to other countries outside of Libya to get a flight back to Sri Lanka.
Furthermore, the bureau will also provide facilities for the returning Sri Lankans to get back to their villages and homes.
Riots in Libya have also spread to similar incidents in Bahrain and some parts of Oman, Tunisia and Yemen.
There are approximately over 1.5 million Sri Lankans working in various countries in the Middle East.
It was highlighted by the SLFEB that the foreign employment industry is ranked as the second largest earner of foreign exchange in the Sri Lankan economy and women consist of over 50 per cent of the people leaving Sri Lanka for employment.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE and Jordon were the major labour receiving countries that have captured over 86 per cent of the Sri Lankan labour market, highlighted the SLFEB.
It was also noted that over 94 per cent of employees working abroad were in the Middle Eastern countries.