by Norman Palihawadena
A Sri Lankan maid stranded in Jeddah , Saudi Arabia cried her heart out at a press conference held by Uva Provincial Council Opposition leader Ranjan Ramanayake via a teleconferencing facility at Hotel Nippon yesterday.
She told the press that there were about 350 Lankans stranded and leading a miserable life under a bridge without proper food, sanitary facilities. "I don’t want to reveal my identity. There are five other pregnant women like me. The bandages on our hands and legs are an indication that we were subject to torture by our Saudi employers. We came here to escape these unscrupulous employers. Please take us back to Sri Lanka ," she cried during a tele-conference.
Another recruited as a welder said that he was asked to work as a shepherd in the scorching sun. He had escaped and reached the bridge in Safina. He said that various people supplied them with food items but at times many went without meals. He, too, appealed to the authorities to take the stranded workers back to Sri Lanka .
Ramanayake said that on and off he had brought to the notice of Sri Lankan authorities the hardships faced by Lankan migrant workers and was somewhat happy that as in the past on this occasion, too, his efforts had started to pay dividends since the Foreign Employment Bureau was taking steps to fly them back to Sri Lanka .