Earlier this month, 'Amnesty International' reported that at least 41 Sri Lankan women, the majority of whom are migrant domestic workers, have spent months on end arbitrarily detained at a deportation center in Saudi Arabia, awaiting repatriation to their home country.
The women have been held at a Deportation Detention (Tarheel) Centre in Riyadh for periods ranging from eight to 18 months. At least three of them have young children detained with them, and one woman is in urgent need of medical care and treatment which she is not receiving, the organisation added.
Minister Siripala said that talks were held with the Saudi Arabian government on this regard, who had agreed to release these detainees.
Accordingly, the Saudi government has agreed to send the women to Sri Lanka by the Saudi Arabian state airline, the Minister said, adding that necessary arrangements are being made.
He added that discussions were also held with Civil Aviation Minister - Prasanna Ranatunga and the airport authorities to allow the aircraft to land in Sri Lanka.
The Minister says he has also instructed the relevant authorities to make the necessary arrangements to repatriate these women back to Sri Lanka as soon as possible in accordance with local Covid-19 regulations.
Accordingly, 156 Sri Lankan women in Saudi detention centres are to be repatriated in this manner, the Labour Minister said.