By Shezna Shums
Thirty six Sri Lankans and a few Chinese nationals in Libya who had made their way to Greece had disappeared from the hotel where they had been accommodated even after the SLFEB had sent them tickets for their return to Sri Lanka.
Five of these people had later been captured by the authorities.
Following this disgraceful event the Chairman, SLFEB, Kingsley Ranawaka said, the Greece authorities had informed that they would not take in any more Sri Lankans who are fleeing Libya and needed a safe place before they find their way to Sri Lanka.
41 Sri Lankans who were working in Libya arrived early morning yesterday at the Bandaranaike International Airport with the aid of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLFEB).
The SLFEB, Chairman, Kingsley Ranawaka, on the instructions of Minister of Foreign Employment and Welfare Dilan Perera is trying to get the Sri Lankans who are working in Libya back to Sri Lanka as fast as possible.
According to the SLFEB, the Sri Lankan government is even seeking the assistance of the Diplomatic community in order to expedite the return of these Sri Lankans safely.
A press release by the SLFEB yesterday said that in the case of Sri Lankans fleeing Libya to any other country for safety before being picked up and brought to Sri Lanka, all expenses incurred by them including vehicle hire, air tickets and accommodation expenses etc. would be borne by Government of Sri Lanka.
Although no Sri Lankan has been injured in the ongoing riots in Libya the SLFEB has temporarily banned Sri Lankans from seeking employment in Libya. Such a ban was also seen when riots erupted in Egypt; however the ban has now been lifted.
The SLBEF said that there are an estimated 1200 Sri Lankans working in Libya and efforts were being made to bring all of them back. Once they return to Sri Lanka they also will be provided with the expenses needed to find their way back to their homes in the villages.
The Sri Lankan authorities have also opened a counter which works 24 hours to enable relatives of those in Libya to find out about their kith and kin and whether they are already on their way back to Sri Lanka.
Riots in Libya are more violent and bloody than what was seen in Egypt earlier this year. Rioting which first started in Tunisia and then spread to Egypt is now raging in Libya and many Middle East countries such as Bahrain, Yemen and Oman with rumblings heard in many other countries in the region.
According to the SLFEB there are approximately one and a half million Sri Lankans working in the Middle East and consist of housemaids, unskilled labour, semi skilled, clerical, middle level and professionals.