Report on fee hike for Sri Lankan helpers misleading: Envoy

Sri Lankan Ambassador Azmi Thassim
Updated 18 April 2017
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Report on fee hike for Sri Lankan helpers misleading: Envoy

RIYADH: Reports of a hefty rise in recruitment fees for Sri Lankan domestic helpers, including maids, are misleading, said Sri Lankan Ambassador Azmi Thassim on Sunday.
“The Sri Lankan government is not involved in the hike of recruitment fees because business transactions are done by private Saudi and Sri Lankan agents,” he said.
A report published in local Arabic press said Sri Lankan recruitment offices have raised recruitment costs of domestic workers from $1,560 to $3,000, representing a 92 percent hike.
The report added that Sri Lankan agents have been delaying or suspending travel permits of workers waiting to be deployed in the Kingdom “to put pressure on Saudi recruitment offices to pay the hefty amount for hiring domestic aides.”
Thassim said: “The Kingdom and Sri Lanka will be holding talks soon to address the grievances of the parties concerned, and will hammer out a solution to the problem.”
The Saudi Embassy in Sri Lanka earlier issued an instruction for Saudi recruitment agents to pay $1,560 to hire a Sri Lankan housemaid, he added.
In the run-up to the holy month of Ramadan and Eid festivities, Saudi Arabia requires more household workers.
Both governments are keen to talk and solve the issue, but “private business transactions between Saudi and Sri Lankan recruitment agencies cannot be stopped by the government until Riyadh and Colombo reach a settlement,” the envoy said.
The report quoted Hussain Al-Mutairi, head of the recruitment committee at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as saying: “Sri Lankan recruitment offices have played with recruitment costs, which were at $1,560 as stipulated by an agreement signed between the Saudi and Sri Lankan offices.”
He added that the Sri Lankan offices “have also hiked other related charges including the monthly salary, which was raised and fixed at SR1,300 ($346) by Sri Lankan agents last February compared to SR1,100 as previously agreed.”
Al-Mutairi accused Sri Lankan recruitment offices of exerting enormous pressure on their Saudi counterparts.
He called on Saudi offices “not to respond to these pressures ... A unified position from the Saudi side will make the Sri Lankan offices work in line with the unified price agreed upon by both parties.”
Saudi Arabia is home to about 200,000 Sri Lankan workers, about 50 percent of them domestic helpers, mostly housemaids.


Lost Children’s Care Center helps to reunite families

Updated 22 August 2018
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Lost Children’s Care Center helps to reunite families

  • 11 children of different nationalities and ages were reported to the Lost Children’s Care Center since the start of Hajj
  • Many pilgrims opt to bring their children with them for educational purposes or out of necessity

MINA: Pilgrims, like all parents, closely look after their children, but sometimes worshippers lose their offspring during Hajj due to the large crowds of people at the holy sites.

Many pilgrims opt to bring their children with them for educational purposes or out of necessity, especially with younger ones. However, some 11 of these youngsters were lost in Mina over the past two days of the Hajj.

While interviewing Lina Abu Zinada, a supervisor at the Lost Children’s Care Center at the holy sites, in the afternoon, a female pilgrim from Comoros was weeping over losing her ten-year-old child who had been reported lost since morning. The woman also lost her husband while they both were praying at a nearby mosque.

“This pilgrim has lost her child and we are doing our best to find him. She wanted to be taken to a police station as she thought that she could be safer there. We succeeded in calming her down. After a few hours, members of her country’s embassy came and took her to another place,” she said. 

Security men, boy scouts and even volunteers bring them lost children. “Once we receive a lost child, we first take all the details from the person bringing the lost child,” Abu Zinada told Arab News.

“We then document the information and descriptions of the lost child and forward them to our field agents along with the information of the person who brought the lost child. When someone loses a child, all that he or she can do is to reach a security man or anyone who takes them to our field workers. The latter immediately check with us to see if the information is the same,” Abu Zinada said.  

She said that their office had received 11 lost children of different nationalities and ages since this year’s Hajj started. “We managed to help 10 of these children find their parents,” she said. “We feed the network of guidance centers with all information about the lost children so that they can easily inform their parents that they are found and sent to the Lost Children’s Care Center.”

She said that all lost children are taken to their center, whether these children were found in Arafat, Mina or Muzdalifah.

Abu Zinada said that some of the children arrive at their office in such a hysterical state that they refuse to leave the person who brought them in.

“Some others accept the situation and respond to our information inquiry,” she said. She added that the youngest lost child they had found was five years old, while the oldest one was 12. The majority of the lost children were from Africa, she said.

“We have some of our team members who can communicate with the children in different languages beside Arabic. These languages are English, Urdu and French,” she said. She added that they sometimes seek the assistance of street cleaners to help them speak with the lost child.