COLOMBO, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Sri Lankan government on Tuesday handed over financial compensation to families of migrant workers who had died or become disabled while being employed in foreign countries.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Foreign Employment Minister Thalatha Athukorala handed over cheques amounting to 51 million local rupees to the families at a ceremony held in Colombo.
Addressing the gathering, Samaraweera said that the government had been able to hand over compensation worth over 200 million ruppees to families of migrant workers who had died or become disabled since 2015.
He assured that the Foreign Ministry together with the Foreign Employment Ministry would take all steps to ensure the safety of migrant workers.
Samaraweera offered condolences to the families of the migrant workers who had lost their loved ones.
Those compensated on Tuesday had been employed in Singapore, Lebanon, Jordan, Malaysia, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait.
Sri Lanka is a party of the UN Convention on the "protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families". It has implemented several programs such as free life insurance coverage and safe houses in the host countries to accommodate stranded workers.
In June the country said it will gradually stop sending housemaids abroad, mainly to the Middle East, due to rights abuses, social costs and a local labor shortage.
Sri Lanka's expatriate workers, mainly housemaids and unskilled laborers, are the island nation's main foreign exchange earners, sending back remittances of around 7 billion U.S. dollars a year. The country's total economy is worth 82.2 billion U.S. dollars. (1 USD equals 146.67 Sri Lankan rupee)