Tue, 2008-12-09 15:29
Colombo, 09 December, (Asiantribune.com): Government has expressed deep concern over the plight of Sri Lankan workers languishing in Iraq. These workers are being employed by a US Military contractor and held against their wishes, halve-starved and under despicable conditions in warehouses and tents in Baghdad.Minister Keheliya Rambukawella told that it was deplorable and condemnable that Sri Lankans being held in such pitiable conditions by a US military contractor in Iraq.
Asian Tribune already reported quoting news sources, that about 1,000 Asian men from Sri Lanka, India, Nepal and Bangladesh who were hired by a Kuwaiti subcontractor to the U.S. military have been confined for as long as three months in windowless warehouses near the Baghdad airport without money or a place to work.
On 04 December, CNN in a special report from Iraqi capital Baghdad showed vividly the plight of the Asian workers who were promised work, but are partially starved with no money receiving handouts from Iraqi well wishers.
According to reports, it is Najlaa International Catering Services, a subcontractor to KBR, an engineering construction and services company, hired the men, who're from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Minister Keheliya Rambukawella Government’s spokesman for Defence and National Security and the Minister of Foreign Employment, Promotion and Welfare said that he was shocked and appalled when he heard the plight of the Sri Lankans held by US Military contractor in Iraq along with Indians, Nepalese and Bangladeshis half starved in poor living conditions in windowless warehouses and tents.
When Asian Tribune asked whether he has taken up this issue at least with US Ambassador based in Colombo, Sri Lanka, he said "Already I have brought this matter to the notice of Robert Blake, the US Ambassador in Colombo."
Minister Keheliya Rambukawella said, "Recently the American Ambassador in Colombo came and met me and he was talking about illegal migration. I brought this issue to him and told him of the news report about the plight of Sri Lankan’s who are languishing in Iraq and held against their wishes by the US Military contractor. I also pointed out to him that the alleged US Army contractor in Iraq is the one who recruited Sri Lankan workers through illegal channels."
The minister told Asian Tribune that he still waits for a response.
He said that what happen is that agents and subagents who are involved in the recruitment of Sri Lankans in Kuwait are all Sri Lankans.
He added that people who have gone to Kuwait, say about fifteen twenty years ago, are today the recruitment agents for the recruitment of Sri Lankans to that country.
"Recently I took steps to change the whole scenario of recruitment from Kuwait and I immediately started encountering lot of resistance from them. They are now on a slander campaign against me," he said
The minister expressed his doubts that those Sri Lankans who are presently in Kuwait must have been recruited by some unscrupulous recruitment agents in Kuwait.
"We are at present seriously investigating this issue," Minister Keheliya Rambukawella said.
- Asian Tribune -