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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 75

Lebanon responds positively to President Rajapaksa’s suggestion - Sri Lankan returnees to receive free PCR tests

Colombo, 07 June, (Asiantribune.com):

The Government of Lebanon has agreed to conduct PCR tests free of charge for Sri Lankans seeking to be repatriated.

Since the number of Sri Lankans who wish to return to the Motherland is growing following the global pandemic, the relief offered by Lebanon will save a sizeable amount of foreign exchange.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently instructed officials to explore the possibility of conducting PCR tests for Sri Lankans in their countries of residence prior to departure and obtain results thereafter.

Special attention is to be paid for those who return from high risk countries. Overseas PCR tests are being carried out in addition to the tests conducted upon their arrival in the island.

In line with the Sri Lankan policy on repatriating Sri Lankans overseas, Ambassador to Lebanon Shani Calyaneratne Karunaratne had discussed the issue with Lebanese Minister of Labor Lamia Yammine at the Ministry premises on June 01.

The Ambassador requested assistance from Lebanon to conduct the PCR test on a free of charge basis enabling the Embassy to prepare for the returnees to leave.

The Minister requested the list of persons already submitted to the Directorate of General Security (Immigration Department) for clearance for exit visa and also requested the intervention of the Labor Ministry for an exemption for penalties.

The Minister agreed to look in to the requests and inquired about the 24 hour telephone hot lines maintained by the Embassy. She also added that the workers could contact the Lebanese Labor Ministry. Subsequently, the same day, the labor Ministry informed the Embassy that the PCR test will be done for the Sri Lankan migrant workers for a nominal fee of US$ 20 instead of US$ 100 per person if they are returning.

However, in the announcement of Cabinet decisions on June 4, it was announced that Lebanon will waive the US$ 20 and it will be done free of charge as requested by the Embassy.

"As the numbers on the list of returnees is growing, the Lebanese decision saves a sizeable amount of funds to the Government of Sri Lanka," the MFR said. Ambassador and the Minister also discussed the pending MOU on migrant labor from Sri Lanka and the Unified contract, minimum wage and the worker’s rights. Counsellor (E&W) of the Embassy P.K.T Hettiarachchi and Head of the Department of International Affairs of the Ministry Denise Dahrouj also attended the meeting.

Accordingly, President Secretariat has announced that the Government of Lebanon agreed to offer free PCR tests following a formal request by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Beirut to the country’s Foreign Ministry as suggested by President Rajapaksa.

It is reported that a large number of people who arrived in the country from the Middle East were infected with COVID-19 virus.

During a discussion with the Task Force on the prevention of COVID-19, President Rajapaksa observed that this situation has posed an additional challenge when providing quarantine and other health facilities.

The Government is committed to bring back all Sri Lankans who wish to return from the rest of the Middle Eastern countries following PCR tests in their respective countries prior to their departure to Sri Lanka.

Stay Safe, Stay at Home, Stay Informed, But Don't Forget to Wash Your Hands.

- Asian Tribune -

 Ambassador Shani Calyaneratne Karunaratne held discussions with the Lebanese Minister of Labor
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