By Cassandra Mascarenhas
Last week, a group of 44 female workers returned to Sri Lanka from Kuwait where they had been seeking shelter in a safe house managed by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Kuwait .
According to L. K. Ruhunage, the assistant general manager of the Foreign Employment Bureau of Sri Lanka, the return of these workers is an ongoing process that is funded by the Bureau.
There are many reasons behind why these women chose to leave their places of employment such as the non-payment of wages, being unable to work due to various illnesses, personal reasons such as sick relatives back home or in some cases, harassment at the hands of their employers.
Next week, another group of 68 male workers are scheduled to return to Sri Lanka from Riyadh , Saudi Arabia as they too have encountered similar problems at their places of employment.
When asked about the situation regarding the workers stranded under the Kandara Bridge in Saudi Arabia , Ruhunage said that most of them have returned back to Sri Lanka . “This is harder to monitor as the workers’ return is handled by the Saudi authorities and not us,” he added.
However, yet more workers have gathered under this bridge, adding to the number of workers waiting to return. The Saudi government has now offered these workers shelter, where the Foreign Employment Bureau of Sri Lanka would pay for the accommodation, and the Sri Lankan consulate based in Jeddah has advised the workers to accept this offer and move to the shelters instead of continuing to remain under the Kandara Bridge .