08/29/2022, 17.34
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Almost 200,000 Sri Lankans emigrated in 2022 so far

by Melani Manel Perera

Most applicants obtained their passport under the one-day service. Those who remain face galloping inflation (67 per cent). For most, it is nearly impossible to live, forcing young and old to look for work, especially in the Middle East.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – About 200,000 Sri Lankans have left their country in 2022 so far due to the economic crisis, this according to data released by the Department of Immigration.

“The majority left for jobs in the Middle East,” said D. D. P. Senanayake, general manager of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE). In fact, “We are promoting foreign employment through job fairs at the moment.”

Since January, Sri Lanka has issued 560,292 travel documents for all countries in the world. Under a new service, those with an SLBFE foreign employment letter can fast-track their passport application in one day, paying a 15,000-rupee fee (US$ 42).

According to the government, most of the passports were issued in accordance with this new procedure, underlining the haste with which many Sri Lankans want to leave the country.

Currently, Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since independence from the United Kingdom in 1948 with inflation now running at 66.7 per cent.

“No matter how much you earn, it will never be enough – from a cup of tea to a pack of rice, every food costs a lot,” said Maxi Ranasinghe, a resident in Wattala, speaking to AsiaNews. He and his family plan to move to the Middle East. “It's better to go abroad and live comfortably working for someone else,” he explained.

For Vincent Kularatne, a retired government official, “young people who have studied should not think twice about seizing the opportunity” of leaving. “It's sad to have to talk about our country this way, but that's the reality. No matter in which country they have an opportunity to find a job, they should take it.”

"Getting out of here is the only solution until politicians decide to leave the country and hand it over to the new generations," Kularatne noted. "Continuing to live in Sri Lanka is increasingly difficult for us and our children."

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