Aid workers made to leave Sri Lanka under strict new visa rules
Aid workers in Sri Lanka are faced with strict new visa rules making it difficult for them to extend their visas to stay in Sri Lanka.
One foreign national working for Forut was deported on Saturday and another employee of Forut denied re-entry to Sri lanka last month.
Some employees of Care International, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children Fund, Zoa Refugee Care and ASB had to leave because their visa was not extended.
The Government deported the Norwegian head of Forut, an Oslo-based NGO, on Saturday, and stopped a British employee of Forut from re-entering Sri Lanka last month, citing new rules that prevent them from staying in Sri Lanka for more than three years.
Two foreigners working for Care International, including a Briton, were forced to leave last month because their visas were not extended, local sources told The Times.
A Briton working for the Norwegian Refugee Council, an Ethiopian working for the Save the Children Fund, and three foreign members of staff for ASB, a German NGO, have been forced to leave.
The British head of Solidar, a consortium of NGOs, was ordered to leave within seven days in December even though he had four children at school in Sri Lanka. He managed to negotiate a short extension.
The programme manager of Zoa Refugee Care, a Dutch NGO, was expelled from Sri Lanka in September and there are problems gaining visa extensions for five of the NGO’s foreign staff.
The head of Oxfam and the Danish Refugee Council is also likely to leave Sri lanka in the coming months.
Among those who are likely to be forced to leave in the next few months are the country heads of Oxfam and the Danish Refugee Council.
An aid worker said 60 to 70 per cent of NGO heads will have left the country by September or October.
“By September or October, 60 to 70 per cent of NGO heads will have left the country,” said one aid worker.
The reason given by government officials for the strict new visa rules was the rules were to encourage NGOs to recruit more local staff.
Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, told the UN Human Rights Council last week. “We want NGOs who bring aid . . . but we also don’t want people sitting around begging for the crumbs from the rich man’s table.”
Government officials said that the visa rules were to encourage NGOs to recruit more local staff.
“We need to build our own capacity,” Rajiva Wijesinha, the Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, told the UN Human Rights Council last week. “We want NGOs who bring aid . . . but we also don’t want people sitting around begging for the crumbs from the rich man’s table.”