August 21, 2019
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    Ministry launches national media campaign on safe labour migration

    January 31, 2019

    The Telecommunication, Foreign Employment and Sports Ministry launched a national media campaign on Safe Labour Migration, at the Ministry’s auditorium on Monday.Implemented in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment and supported by the Swiss Embassy, the campaign aims to encourage all citizens to make informed decisions and follow correct procedures for foreign employment by seeking proper guidance through reliable sources: the 1989 hotline, SLBFE offices and foreign employment development officers based in every divisional secretariat and district secretariat office.
    The launch was attended by Telecommunication, Foreign Employment and Sports Minister Harin Fernando and Swiss Ambassador Hanspeter Mock, along with senior officials of the respective organisations. The lack of access to reliable information for migrant workers and their families has been identified as a major problem that prevents Sri Lankans from making informed decisions when it comes to foreign employment, a news release from the Ministry said.
    The absence of easily accessible and reliable sources of information, which could promote better decision-making on migration for employment, causes a great deal of personal and social problems for workers and their families. A large number of citizens, especially in the low-skilled category, choose to migrate without due consideration of its adverse implications, for the sake of personal and family interests. Such actions often leave them vulnerable to exploitation of their rights as well as those of their families.
    The campaign will build awareness about getting correct information that will guide prospective migrant workers. It also emphasises the necessity of registering with the SLBFE prior to departing. In addition, the sources provide advice and facilities to help them build a secure and successful future in the country of their choice, such as information on vocational skills as the improvement of skills and qualifications will improve job prospects, income earning potential, and working conditions, and long-term investment plans.

    Approximately two million Sri Lankans are currently working overseas, representing nearly 10 percent of the total population of the country. The majority of migrant workers are low-skilled construction and domestic workers working in the Gulf countries, who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Foreign remittances, primarily from migrant workers, continue to be the largest source of foreign exchange earnings for Sri Lanka, contributing 8.5 percent to the country’s GDP.
    “According to the controversial stories we’ve been hearing, it all comes down to effective communication to all our citizens to let them know which route to take in their journey towards migration. Another significant aspect is the varying laws of each country,” Minister Harin Fernando said.
    “In the 13 countries we represent at the moment, we have our foreign employment offices and safe houses, which are all in place to serve the needs of migrant workers. Unfortunately, due to this lack of awareness, many people do not register themselves at the SLFBE, thus when an incident occurs, it becomes quite a challenge for the bureau to aid them and bring them back to Sri Lanka,” the Minister said.
    “Switzerland supports and encourages the stakeholders of the countries of origin and destination countries to collaborate in order to improve the conditions of labor migrants and their families, because it is our understanding that both have a shared responsibility towards migrant workers,” Swiss Ambassador Hanspeter Mock, said.

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