The island paradise that everyone loves opens to welcome visitors from all over the world on the 21st of January 2021. Get ready to explore "So Sri Lanka" by trekking up to the misty mountains for breathtaking views, hopping on the back of a jeep for a wild safari ride, savoring mouthwatering local cuisine, and much more... Welcome back to Sri Lanka. It's still fun and safe!
Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena sought the assistance of Honorary Consuls based in Colombo to encourage foreign investors to invest in Sri Lanka. The Minister made this request at a meeting held yesterday (11 January) with the Honorary Consuls based in Colombo, at the Foreign Ministry. The meeting was held in compliance with the Covid-19 health guidelines.
Minister Gunawardena further reiterated the importance of mutually assisting each other to revive the world economy, as a collective effort amidst the pandemic.
Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage, speaking to the gathering, explained that the weather conditions of the previous year had a positive impact on the tea production of the country. Hence, Sri Lanka is in an advantageous position to market its quality tea worldwide.
The President of Myanmar U Win Myint has decided to confer the Honorary Religious Title of “Aggamahāpaṇḍita” on four Sri Lankan Buddhist monks and several other Honorary Titles on three Buddhists Priests and one Layman from Sri Lanka, in honor of the 73rd Anniversary of the Independence Day of Myanmar.
Ven. Mihiripenne Sobhita Thero, Sri Maha Bodhi Maha Viharaya, Dehiwala, Ven. Dr. Kollupitiye Mahinda Sanha Rakkhita Maha Thero, Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya and Kithsirimevan Raja Maha Viharaya, Ven. Tirikunamale Ananda Mahanayka Maha Thero, Sri Amarapura Dharmarakshitavamsa Maha Nikaya and Ven. Dodampahala Chandrasiri Maha Nayaka Thero, Sri Kelayanivasa, Amarapura Maha Nikaya have been conferred with the Aggamahapandita Title .
The Foreign Ministry will continue facilitating repatriations without any financial burden on Sri Lankans, the Foreign Secretary asserted responding to misinformation in the public domain. Secretary Jayanath Colombage made it clear that the role of the Missions is strictly confined to organizing repatriation flights for returnees who are tested on arrival, offered all logistical support and are quarantined at Government facilities free of charge.
The returnees are drawn from the list of overseas Sri Lankans registered in the Missions and Posts and repatriated depending on their vulnerability levels and on a “first come first serve basis“. Foreign Employment Bureau and their representatives are working with our missions on the safe return of the expatriate working community on the same basis in relation to availability of flights and clearance by Airport Authorities in the relevant countries. The number of passengers who are permitted to travel per day, however, is determined by the Task Force chiefly based on a periodical appraisal and inputs provided by the Army in charge of quarantine centres and the Ministry of Health which is entrusted with the task of implementing health guidelines.
In circumstances where the local quarantine and medical care facilities are fully stretched, repatriation on payment basis becomes an option for those returnees who could afford such facilities.
Charter flights for overseas Sri Lankans are approved and organized through Sri Lanka Missions on the request of Sri Lankan community groups who prefer paid quarantine, testing and other logistical arrangements involved in the repatriation process.
Cargo flights and a few selected commercial flights are also approved by the Ministry for repatriation, a third type of facilitation offered to relatively small groups of passengers who could afford to pay for quarantine and other requirements involved and a maximum of 75 passengers per flight are permitted as per the latest directive of the Covid Task force.
The General Sales Agents (GSA) of respective Air Lines have been authorized to deal with the passengers on charges of Air tickets, PCR tests and quarantining and the Diplomatic Missions have not been mandated to handle payments whatsoever concerning the travel requirements except for extremely special cases of requests for such facilitation.
As the pandemic situation remains fluid and unpredictable a regular re-appraisal is undertaken, based on which the process of repatriation is periodically reviewed.
08 January 2021
UNDP Resident Coordinator Robert Jukham presented a copy of the UNDP Human Development Report 2020 to Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on 5 January 2021 at the Foreign Ministry.
Foreign Minister Gunawardena appreciated the UNDP’s cooperation with Sri Lanka and expressed his appreciation of UNDP’s response to Covid-19 early interventions. He mentioned that free education and health policies of Sri Lanka, among other things, have significantly contributed to the country’s achievements in human development. He underscored the commitment of the Government towards achieving Sustainable Development as stated by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his inaugural speech. The Minister went on to discuss a wide range of issues affecting the people, for instance micro financing schemes and related vulnerabilities, improvement in digital infrastructure and human-elephant conflict. Special emphasis was paid to areas where the UNDP can work in collaboration with Sri Lanka in addressing the issues including those related to the SDGs.
Despite the worsening global situation triggered by the Covid pandemic, the process of repatriation of Sri Lankans, one of the most pressing challenges at hand has been judiciously spear headed by the Foreign Ministry under the directive of Minister Dinesh Gunawardana, enduring insurmountable challenges overseas amid lockdowns, isolations, curfews and closure of air space, to ensure swift return of Sri Lankans who are in distress.
Since the evacuation of 33 students from Wuhan City, in February 2019, the Ministry has been carrying out the task of repatriation for almost a year now and to date 60,470 Sri Lankans, composed of pilgrims, students, Officials of Government or Armed Forces, migrant workers, short term visitors, sea farers and cases on compassionate grounds have been repatriated from 137 countries by the Ministry through the Sri Lanka Missions overseas.
Over 40,000 migrant workers, predominantly from the Middle East region have been the top segment of overseas workers who have benefitted so far whereas another 20,000 Sri Lankans have been brought down from Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin American regions. As the conditions abroad deteriorate and due to the large number of layoffs and other courses of unemployment, the number of prospective returnees keep rising and currently an estimated 68,000 Overseas Sri Lankans from various regions have been wait listed by the Ministry for repatriation.
The latest fortnightly schedule of flights finalized to be operated between 2-9 January 2021, will include 1400 passengers from Chennai, Melbourne, Kuwait, Doha, Canada, Cyprus and Dubai, Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage has stated.
Most importantly the Ministry and its 67 Missions continue discussions with friendly nations, UN Agencies and regional organizations and have secured as grants and donations large consignments of PCR test kits, RAT kits, test machines, lifesaving medicines, Ventilators, humidifiers and huge quantities of PPEs and face masks towards reinforcing the national Covid containment efforts which has spared the Government from incurring a huge sum of funds. The Missions are also closely following the developments with regard to manufacturing of vaccines and serving as a conduit of vital and timely information on the feasibilities of sourcing the vaccine from foreign governments.
The Ministry as measures of immediate relief, air lifted over 10,000 packs of dry rations and indigenous medicines to Male, Dubai and Doha first time in the history of Sri Lanka and has given around Rs.80 Million so far for the sustenance of our communities overseas. The funds were aimed at supplying basic medicine, testing, tempo accommodation, protective gears, internal transportation and in some cases the air tickets.
03 January 2021
It is our responsibility in the New Year 2021 to work together as Sri Lankans shedding all differences to safeguard the dignity, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka while maintaining ‘Kalyana Mithra’ friendly relations with all countries of the world, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena stated in his message for the New Year.
Everyone needs to think about how the countries in the world that are far more oppressed than our’s and have less facilities than us were able to develop faster than us. We should take examples of the political, social and economic changes that have taken place in those countries.
Pure Theravada Buddhism is a very valuable guide for the development of Sri Lanka, but it is time now for us to look back to see whether we have paid full attention to do that.
The Policy Statement ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’ and the Non-Aligned Friendly Foreign Policy of the Government will help make Sri Lanka a great nation in the world. We will all work towards these goals in this New Year to protect our motherland as a sovereign state and exemplary to the future generations.
Foreign Minister Gunawardena wished that this New Year would be a happy, healthy and prosperous year for all Sri Lankans, as well all people around the world.
01 January 2021