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.


US-backed Syrian force declare victory over Daesh in Raqqa

In this Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 photo, fighters from the Women’s Protection Units, or YPJ, hold a celebration in Paradise Square in Raqqa, Syria. (AP Photo/Gabriel Chaim)
Updated 20 October 2017
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US-backed Syrian force declare victory over Daesh in Raqqa

BEIRUT: A US-backed Syrian force declared victory over Daesh in its former “capital” of Raqqa on Friday, declaring the northern Syrian city free of any extremist presence.
At a press conference held inside the city Friday, the Kurdish-led force known as the Syrian Democratic Forces formally handed over administration of the devastated northern city to a council made up of local officials and tribal leaders.
In a highly symbolic move, the press conference was held inside the city’s sports stadium which Daesh militants had turned into an arms depot and a huge prison where they incarcerated and tortured their opponents.
“Our victory is one against terrorism, and the liberation of Raqqa marks the latest chapter in the fight against terrorists in Syria,” said Talal Sillo, a spokesman and senior SDF commander.
Standing before a backdrop of shattered buildings, Sillo urged the international community and aid organizations to assist with the city’s reconstruction.
Associated Press drone footage from Raqqa showed the extent of devastation caused by weeks of fighting between Kurdish-led forces and Daesh and thousands of bombs dropped by the US-led coalition.
Footage from Thursday shows the bombed-out shells of buildings and heaps of concrete slabs lay piled on streets littered with destroyed cars. Entire neighborhoods are seen turned to rubble, with little sign of civilian life.
The video showed entire blocks in the city as uninhabitable with knocked-out walls and blown-out windows and doors, while some buildings had several stories turned to piles of debris. The stadium that was used as an arms depot and prison by the extremists appears to have suffered less damage compared with surrounding buildings.
“We call upon all countries and peace-loving forces and all humanitarian organizations to participate in rebuilding the city and villages around it and help in removing the scars of war that were inflicted by the (Daesh) group,” Sillo said.
Sillo said 655 local and international fighters lost their lives during the four-month battle for Raqqa.
Long before the ground offensive by the Syrian Democratic Forces began in Raqqa in early June, warplanes pounded the city for months.
The US-backed Kurdish-led SDF announced Tuesday they have driven Daesh militants out of the city after weeks of fighting.
The fall of Raqqa marks a major defeat for Daesh, which has seen its territories steadily shrink since last year. Daesh took over Raqqa, located on the Euphrates River, in January 2014, and transformed it into the epicenter of its brutal rule.