Sri Lankans who have sought to benefit from the Amnesty declared by the Kuwaiti Government for Sri Lankans who are out of status, will commence repatriation tomorrow.

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena who had a telephone discussion with his Kuwaiti Counterpart Dr. Ahmad Nasser Al Mohammed Al Sabah today (18 May) agreed that the first batch of returnees, numbering approximately 460, will arrive on two Kuwaiti Airways flights on Tuesday 19 May 2020.

The Foreign Minister also said in consultation with the immigration authorities, the Sri Lanka Embassy in Kuwait will verify and issue emergency travel documents to those Sri Lankan nationals who will qualify for the Amnesty, when the Kuwaiti government reopens for them to register. The general Amnesty enables those out of status to leave with no consequences, and also to return to Kuwait for work in a legal manner.

Minister Gunawardena assured his Kuwaiti counterpart that the government of Sri Lanka is committed to facilitate future repatriation of amnesty beneficiaries in Kuwait, consistent with previous practice. However Sri Lanka would require to coordinate it carefully in a manner that is consistent with the availability of space in quarantine centers, which are limited.

The two ministers also discussed measures taken by the respective governments to face the challenges posed by COVID-19. The Minister thanked the Kuwaiti government for the support including healthcare facilities provided for over 100,000 Sri Lankans presently working in Kuwait. Minister said the Sri Lanka Embassy in Kuwait in collaboration with the Sri Lankan community and other welfare groups based in Kuwait, were continuously providing dry rations to the neediest overseas Sri Lankans.

The Foreign Minister also urged his counterpart to increase the import of Sri Lankan tea and other produce to Kuwait, which had been affected due to the limitations in air traffic between the two countries. It was noted that the planes carrying the beneficiaries of the amnesty from Kuwait, will be taking back Sri Lankan exports to Kuwait.

The Ministers agreed to have a telephonic exchange on a fortnightly basis, to review the progress on these matters.

Ministry of Foreign Relations
Colombo
18 May 2020

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