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Consulate General of Sri Lanka

Over 17,000 Overseas Sri Lankans register on ‘Contact Sri Lanka’

PR-28-03-2020-O

Over 17,457 Overseas Sri Lankans (OSL) had by Saturday noon (28 March), registered on the ‘Contact Sri Lanka’ Online Portal of the Ministry of Foreign Relations. Of these, 6773 are from the Middle East region, 1892 from Europe, 1302 from South Asia, 1028 from North America and over 6000 from other parts of the world.

This portal jointly created by the Ministry of Foreign Relations and the Information & Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) for the benefit of Overseas Sri Lankans, was launched on Thursday (26 March 2020). It is hosted on the Ministry web page www.mfa.gov.lk and can also be accessed at www.contactsrilanka.mfa.gov.lk. A dedicated team of officials have been assigned by the Ministry of Foreign Relations to respond to queries.

A bulk of the 700 inquiries received through ‘Contact Sri Lanka’ so far, relate to the possibility of return to the country. However in light of the special request made by the Government yesterday (27 March) to Sri Lankan expatriates urging them to safely remain where they are now until the risk of  COVID-19 virus is minimized and the disease is contained in Sri Lanka, the Ministry has taken several measures through its Mission network to continue to facilitate and address the immediate concerns of the Overseas Sri Lankans. Other common inquiries include the welfare of student populations, extension of visa, lack of financial support for those unemployed, non-payment of salaries, closing down of commercial establishments and questions on quarantine upon arrival.

Over the past two weeks since disruptions to travel, Sri Lanka Missions abroad have been particularly vigilant and prompt in taking action towards addressing the impending issues faced, particularly by the student populations. Some of the measures put in place included ensuring that hostels remain open, that food supply/provision is maintained by the respective establishments, and that if they require medical assistance they are directed to medical facilities, wherever possible, to seek extensions of university/school payments of students. The Missions have also been directed to maintain close engagement with educational establishments with Sri Lankan students and the student community to continue to provide for their welfare.

With respect to Sri Lankan employees in the Middle East and Asia in particular, Missions will work with host governments to secure fair treatment and concessions for Sri Lankan expatriate workers to the maximum extent possible. This includes safeguarding the rights of the workers in relation to payment of salaries and ensuring job security.

As for the broader population of Sri Lankans, Missions have also been requested to liaise with Sri Lanka Associations, organizations and places of worship established by Sri Lankans, in providing assistance to those Sri Lankans facing difficulty and are in need of assistance in the face of the rapidly evolving situation.  The Missions have been requested to mobilize to provide basic sustenance and medical facilities, in full measure.

Earlier on 18 March, Sri Lanka requested foreign governments to facilitate appropriate visa extensions for Sri Lankans currently visiting their countries, in view of the control measures issued by most countries due to COVID-19. A number of states have positively responded to this request, and the Sri Lanka Missions have been asked to communicate the modalities for this process to those affected, while engaging other host Governments to work out reciprocal arrangements, as Sri Lanka extended this facility to all foreign nationals presently in Sri Lanka since mid-March.

Ministry of Foreign Relations

Colombo

28 March 2020

 

 

SPECIAL REQUEST BY THE GOVERNMENT TO SRI LANKAN EXPATS

Press-Release-2020-03-27

 

FOREIGN MINISTRY LAUNCHES ‘CONTACT SRI LANKA’-ONLINE PORTAL FOR OVERSEAS SRI LANKANS IN COLLABORATION WITH ICTA

2020-03-26

 

‘Contact Sri Lanka’ an online portal jointly created by the Ministry of Foreign Relations and Information & Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) for the benefit of Overseas Sri Lankans was launched today (26 March 2020) at the Ministry of Foreign Relations. The web link is hosted on the Ministry web page www.mfa.gov.lk and also can be accessed at www.contactsrilanka.mfa.gov.lk.

Establishment  of the portal, is pursuant to the call made by  President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for coordinated efforts by all Government stakeholders to fight the COVID-19 outbreak and to harness digital technology to prompt faster and more efficient service delivery.

All Sri Lankans living abroad are invited to register voluntarily on the platform’s basic functionalities allowing the Government of Sri Lanka to reach out and provide assistance during emergencies such as the COVID19 outbreak. This platform will allow the Ministry to access real time data for quick action. The open access platform would also facilitate Overseas Sri Lankans to interact between government stakeholders, promoting greater access to the Government services through a single centralized point at the Ministry of Foreign Relations. This Portal will also connect Overseas Sri Lankans with the network of Sri Lanka Missions abroad.

In the long term, the Portal will be expanded and is expected to serve as an official source of information and facilitate Overseas Sri Lankans in obtaining  a wider range of digital services offered by the Government.

A dedicated team of officials have already been assigned by the Ministry of Foreign Relations to respond to queries of Overseas Sri Lankans  and also to act as an online help desk, during emergencies in consultation with relevant stakeholders. Registration by country will also allow the Ministry to propose concrete policy decisions in critical response situations such as evacuation etc., depending on the number of emergency assistance requests generated.

For easy facilitation, the portal also includes a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) which will serve as a guideline for generic queries. This user friendly platform can be easily navigated via the internet, on any browser or interface and can be accessed by all  registered users to direct  a query or request assistance, even from a mobile phone.

The data provided through this portal is protected to ensure the  privacy of Overseas Sri Lankans and will not be shared  without the consent of the users.

The ICTA will be working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Relations in expanding the features of the portal in stages, to create a comprehensive online service platform for Overseas Sri Lankans, via the ‘Contact Sri Lanka’ Portal.

The Ministry of Foreign Relations, is hopeful that this integrated platform will elevate its existing service delivery for Overseas Sri Lankans to a higher level, particularly allowing rapid response in times of emergencies. All Sri Lankans living abroad are invited to benefit from this portal.

  

Ministry of Foreign Relations

Colombo

26 March 2020

 

Foreign Ministry facilitates outward movement of foreign nationals

Press-Release-2020-03-18

Arrangements are being made for the smooth return of foreign nationals who are presently in Sri Lanka on tourist and other visa categories. This will be done using both regular flight movements operating through Sri Lanka and also charter flights that may be deployed, as the airport remains open for outbound passenger movements.

Modalities to facilitate these movements were was discussed today at a meeting chaired by Secretary Foreign Relations, Ravinatha Aryasinha. The meeting was attended by the Ambassadors representing the western hemisphere as well as representatives from the Ministry of Defence, Police Department, Department of Immigration, Airport and Aviation Services, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Civil Aviation and Sri Lankan Airlines.

In view of the curfew which has been imposed, the Acting Inspector General of Police has assured that the air ticket could be used in lieu of a curfew pass for the passengers as well as the vehicle and driver that would be transporting the passengers. Chairman SLTPB said reputed taxi networks and hoteliers have been requested to assist in these movements.

 During the meeting, the diplomats present drew attention to the continuing difficulties faced by their nationals presently in the country on account of negative reactions experienced by tourists on some occasions from both owners of tourist lodgings as well as sections of the general public. The Sri Lankan agencies present emphasized that public measures would be taken to ensure Sri Lanka’s traditional hospitality to foreign nationals in these difficult circumstances.

Special telephones lines have been set up to ensure that such instances will be reported promptly and dealt with.

Special contact facilities have also been provided to those foreign nationals who are being moved to the quarantine centres.

Following the appeal made by Sri Lanka earlier this week, the representatives of several governments informed that they had taken steps to extend visas of Sri Lankans abroad whose visas would have or will expire shortly. The Foreign Ministry was assured by the other countries that its request was receiving the highest consideration in other capitals. Earlier, Sri Lanka extended visas for all visiting foreign nationals by one month.

Ministry of Foreign Relations

Colombo

20 March 2020

 

   

SRI LANKA URGES FOREIGN STATES TO EXTEND VISAS OF VISITING SRI LANKANS

2020-03-20

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha has requested foreign governments to facilitate the appropriate extension of visas for Sri Lankans currently visiting their countries, and facing difficulty to return to Sri Lanka on account of the travel bans that have and will become applicable as part of the control measures on COVID- 19. He noted that the Government of Sri Lanka had on Tuesday (17 March) announced a one-month extension of all types of visas for those foreign nationals presently in the country, from the date of expiry of their present visas. He said such reciprocal arrangements were a common practice, and hoped that this could be facilitated for Sri Lankans, to minimize the anxieties faced by those travelling, in these exceptional times.

Foreign Secretary Aryasinha made these observations today (18 March), when he addressed a group of Ambassadors from Western Hemisphere, as part of the series of briefing sessions to keep the diplomatic community informed of the developments with regard to measures taken by Sri Lanka to control the spread of COVID-19.

While appreciating the supportive role played by the respective governments on assisting the Sri Lankan communities in their countries, the Foreign Secretary shared with the envoys present, the current status regards foreign nationals in Sri Lanka and some difficulties experienced by Sri Lankans overseas. He said, recognizing the concerns at present, all Sri Lanka diplomatic outposts now serve as emergency response units, where only limited consular and other services are continued to be offered amid the current challenges.

Concerns of foreign missions in Colombo over their citizens, facilities at the quarantine centres, and proper communication channels, were effectively responded to by the local stake holders present. The meeting also reached consensus on the smooth departure of foreign nationals, notwithstanding the closure of the airport for those seeking to enter Sri Lanka.

The envoys expressed appreciation for the efforts of the government in handling the situation, including extension of visas for their nationals, and assured that the request to reciprocate the same for Sri Lankans travelling in their countries will be communicated to their respective governments.

  

Ministry of Foreign Relations

Colombo

18 March 2020

 

   

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