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UNDP Human Development Report presented to the Foreign Minister

Wednesday, 06 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.

68,000 Sri Lankans awaiting return – Foreign Secretary

Sunday, 03 January 2021

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. 

Foreign Ministry


03 January 2021

Let us unite and dedicate ourselves for the betterment of our Motherland – Foreign Minister Gunawardena

Saturday, 02 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.

Foreign Ministry


01 January 2021

Government to re-introduce conditional repatriation in the wake of new strain of Coronavirus

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

In the wake of the discovery of a fast spreading new strain of Coronavirus in certain countries, the Government of Sri Lanka has decided to continue with the existing procedure of obtaining prior approval from the Foreign Ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority for all inbound travellers to Sri Lanka.

The revised guidelines on repatriation will be issued once the situation has been reappraised.

Foreign Ministry


22 December 2020

Notice on Revision of Procedure for Inbound Travellers to Sri Lanka

Monday, 21 December 2020

The procedure for inbound travellers to Sri Lanka, introduced since March 2020 is hereby revised as follows, based on the joint decision made by the Foreign Ministry, the Department of Immigration and the Civil Aviation Authority and as agreed by the Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival and Poverty Alleviation.

The following procedure will take effect from 26 December 2020.

1.    The Government of Sri Lanka (Foreign Ministry and National Operation Center for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) will arrange special repatriation flights for the Government quarantine facilities in coordination with Sri Lanka Missions abroad for migrant workers, students, patients, short term visa holders, government and military officials,

2.    i. However, Sri Lankans or Foreigners of Sri Lankan origin (Holders of Dual Citizenship) will be allowed to travel on any commercial/non- repatriation flights to Sri Lanka without the approval of the Foreign Secretary (or) Civil Aviation Authority subject to the limit of passengers per flight determined by the Civil Aviation Authority, based on concurrence/consultation of NOCPCO subject to compliance with paid quarantining at a designated hotel.

 ii. It is the sole responsibility of the Airline concerned to ensure that the passengers allowed on board under the above arrangement will strictly adhere to the paid quarantine.

The revision of procedure for inbound travellers will be subject to review based on further assessments made on new guidelines.

Foreign Ministry


21 December 2020

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena highlights Sri Lanka’s initiatives under e-Governance and Cyber Security at the Global Business Summit 2020

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena was invited by the Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu to represent Sri Lanka at the Global Business Summit 2020 on 16 December 2020. The summit was co-hosted by the Governments of Estonia and the United Arab Emirates. 

Addressing the Summit under e-Governance and Cyber Security, Foreign Minister Gunawardena highlighted that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has envisioned a people-centric and knowledge-driven new beginning for Sri Lanka, recognizing that the 21st Century was defined by knowledge and innovation. The Foreign Minister provided an overview of Sri Lanka’s digital government architecture designed to address the needs of multiple layers of customers whilst ensuring that such services were effective, transparent and corruption, free. He noted that work was already underway to develop the Unique Digital ID relating to biographic and biometric data, the centerpiece of a citizen- centric digital regime,    earmarked for completion by mid - 2021.   Services covered by e-governance would be in the education, health, transportation, immigration and emigration, registration of persons and companies, motor traffic, income tax and local government sectors. He also underlined that e-governance, e-commerce and e-medicine and such digitalization, would define the ‘New Normal’ in the post COVID-19 global landscape.