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'Slaves of the Modern Age': A Sri Lankan Perpective

On November 22, 2009

Thousands of Sri Lankan migrant workers are stranded in Saudi Arabia, prevented from returning home by a lack of finances and proper travel documentation. The Sri Lankan government sent a high-level delegation to the Gulf country to asses the situation, according to this article in Sri Lankan paper The Sunday Times.

Sri Lankan nationals are among the hundreds of stranded migrant workers living under a bridge in Jeddah, unable to return home after entering the country illegally and failing to find work or fleeing from abusive employers (as reported here by Migrant Rights)

W.M.P Aponso, President of Sri Lanka's Association for Foreign Employment Agencies, explains the gravity of the situation:

“This situation has remained for a considerable period of time, and the Saudi authorities are apparently turning a blind eye since repatriation of such large numbers would require a lot of money among other issues.

They will not get involved and it is up to the authorities in Colombo to take serious action instead of letting the situation worsen even further”

Actor-turned-Politician Ranjan Ramanayake blames both the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment and irresponsible recruitment agencies for the rising numbers of stranded workers in Jeddah:

“The two parties are liars. While the agencies are more interested in the fees they collect, the Bureau has a zero mechanism to monitor the recruiting system and gives minimum priority to the welfare of the migrant workers.