COLOMBO, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka will resume repatriating its citizens stranded abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic from July 31 after authorities temporarily suspended the repatriation program from July 14 due to a rise in virus patients in the country, a senior official said here Wednesday.
Additional Secretary to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for Foreign Relations, Admiral Jayanath Colombage told Xinhua that presently there are an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 Sri Lankan citizens who are stranded overseas, mainly in the United Arab Emirates and they need to be brought back to the country as they have lost their jobs and places of stay.
Efforts are ongoing to begin repatriations by the end of this month and two flights are scheduled for July 31 and Aug. 1 to bring back citizens from the Middle East.
Colombage said a further 50,000 Sri Lankan citizens are awaiting repatriation from several countries and regions hit by the COVID-19 and the government will make arrangements to bring them all back to the country once the repatriation program resumes.
With the passage of time, Colombage said those who want to return home may increase and the government will facilitate the return of all these Sri Lankan citizens.
Sri Lanka has to date reported 2,810 positive COVID-19 patients, of which 2,296 patients have recovered and been discharged. A total of 11 deaths from the virus have been reported. Enditem