Rising number of housemaid deaths alarms Sri Lanka

Updated 24 April 2014
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Rising number of housemaid deaths alarms Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan government is showing grave concern about the large number of housemaid deaths in the Gulf countries where they come to work as domestic helps in households.
The Sri Lanka Economic Association (SLEA) has given serious attention to a recent report presented in Parliament which revealed that a large number of dead bodies and remains were returned to Sri Lanka from the Gulf States between January and October 2012.
According to information available with the Medical Officer at the Katunayake Airport, about 75 percent of the bodies were of women below thirty years of age; the majority of cases were determined to be deaths due to heart failure and the internal organs in most of the bodies were reported to be missing. This is when the life expectancy at birth of Sri Lankan women is 79 years.
The Sri Lanka Economic Association (SLEA) is a volunteer association, set up in 1985 and incorporated in 2011 by an Act of Parliament. Its objective is to undertake, promote and facilitate studies in the field of economics and to promote understanding, co-operation and friendship with similar associations within and outside Sri Lanka.
According to a senior official from the Sri Lankan Embassy here, an average of one death is reported everyday.
“The cause of death is mainly natural and very few cases are due to road accidents,” the official said. Asked about the dead bodies of Sri Lankans lying in the Kingdom’s mortuaries, he said that there are some 20 bodies awaiting repatriation. However, he added that the mission sends two bodies to Colombo daily to be received by the deceased’s relatives.
An official from the Sri Lankan Consulate in Jeddah said that in the western province, the cases of death among Sri Lankans is minimal. “The consulate gets around four to five cases a month,” he said, adding that the Riyadh Embassy covers a much larger area than the consulate, so there will be more death cases at the embassy than the consulate in Jeddah. There are some 450,000 Sri Lankans living in the Kingdom and the majority of them are female domestic workers. The Sri Lankan community in the Kingdom is the island’s largest concentration among the 1.5 million Sri Lankans in the Middle East.
According to Road Map-2014 presented by the Central Bank, the trade deficit for 2013 is estimated as $8.6 billion.
Nearly 80 percent of this deficit ($6.7 billion) was bridged by foreign expatriate remittances. In addition to this macro impact, employment in the Gulf has helped thousands of poor families to make ends meet.
This is particularly important in the backdrop of weaning employment opportunities for unskilled women labor in Sri Lanka.
Based on these considerations, the SLEA has recommended the following actions which include requesting international agencies that profess the dignity of labor to uphold the cause of human rights, unequivocally protest to the countries that employ Sri Lankan housemaids, issue strict instructions to Sri Lankan missions in the Gulf to be vigilant and ensure Sri Lankan employees’ welfare and safety and take immediate remedial measures to resolve any issue that arises, register all job agencies and take strict action against agencies which are not registered and launch together with job agencies an orientation program for aspiring migrant workers to improve their soft skills, public relations, ethics and awareness of their rights and duties.


Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince says Brexit opens UK for greater business opportunities with Kingdom

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman
Updated 07 March 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince says Brexit opens UK for greater business opportunities with Kingdom

LONDON: People in the UK and Saudi Arabia are much safer if the two countries have a close relationship, the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said ahead of his visit to Britain.
Prince Mohammed arrived in the UK from Cairo last night to begin the second leg of his first overseas tour since becoming heir to the throne.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph newspaper, the crown prince said Brexit potentially freed up Britain to do more business with the Kingdom.
“We believe that Saudi Arabia needs to be part of the global economy,” he said. “People need to be able to move freely, and we need to apply the same standards as the rest of the world. After Brexit, there will be huge opportunities for Britain as a result of Vision 2030.”
He said the two countries enjoyed historic ties that dated back more than 100 years to the foundation of the Kingdom.
“We have a common interest that goes back to the earliest days of the relationship,” he said, adding: “Our relationship with Britain today is super.”
The 32-year-old crown prince, who is making his first official visit to Britain, has overseen a raft of reforms to modernize the Kingdom.
During the trip, he will meet with Prime Minister Theresa May, the Queen and other members of the British royal family.
A number of events have been scheduled, including a forum on business partnerships between the two countries and a discussion event at Chatham House.
The visit is expected to focus on defense, security and economic ties. The two sides will also review key bilateral and regional issues.
Billboards highlighting his UK visit have been erected in parts of the capital, Saudi state-news channel Al-Ekhbariya reported.
One shows the flags of the two countries with “United Kingdoms” written across the top. Another shows Crown Prince Mohammed with the slogan: “He is bringing change to Saudi Arabia.”
The Telegraph interview touched on the wide-reaching reforms in the country that include allowing Saudi women to drive, work and run businesses.
He said that while Vision 2030 worked to diversify the economy, the inclusion of women in driving that economy was essential to the long-term success of the project.
The crown prince said that global travel had made Saudis increasingly aware how other countries operated. Such an insight, he explained, had led to a change in the aspirations of the country’s younger population.
Currently, UK trade with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states accounts for 10 percent of total commercial transactions — more than the total amount of trade with China, the newspaper added, citing British diplomats.
Security and intelligence cooperation are expected to feature heavily during talks in the UK.
“The British and Saudi people, along with the rest of the world, will be much safer if you have a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia,” the crown prince said.
He said the job at hand was to promote a “more moderate Islam,” to counter the “extremists and the terrorists (who) are linked through spreading their agenda.”
Economic growth in Saudi Arabia would benefit the rest of the Middle East, which would help to defeat extremism.
He dismissed claims that the Saudi government’s current stance against Iran and Qatar could potentially provoke new regional conflict.
Britain was “very supportive” of the Kingdom’s concerns over Iran and other regional security issues, he said.
Before leaving Egypt, Crown Prince Mohammed visited Al-Azhar, the world’s leading seat of learning for Sunni Muslims.
Accompanied by Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam, he was shown the completed restoration work carried out on Al-Azhar Mosque.
The three-year project was financed by a grant from Saudi Arabia. The mosque, built in the 10th century, is now part of a sprawling university, which teaches Islam as well as secular subjects, and a nationwide network of schools.
Hundreds of Al-Azhar students met the crown prince and Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
During the trip, Crown Prince Mohammed visited the main Christian cathedral in Cairo and met the head of the Coptic church. He also toured infrastructure projects and the Suez canal and attended a play at Cairo Opera House.
The two countries signed deals linked to investment funds and the building of a project in Sinai connected to Saudi Arabia’s Neom megacity project.