Today is international Migrants Day:
Recent trends in international migration
International Migration Day falls today. migration within and out of
Sri Lanka means a heavy weight on socio economic and political structure
of the country.
Speaking exclusively to the Daily News the former Head of the
Department of Demography and Dean of the Faculty of Arts of the
University of Colombo Professor Indralal de Silva opined that migration
can be defined as a permanent or semi-permanent change of the place when
people have been living or the change of the location to another.
Prof Indralal de Silva
“Migration can be categorized into two sections Internal and
International migration. Both categories are too much important to Sri
Lanka. Main reasons for the internal migration are employment,
education, and marriage. Security reasons, health, retirement from jobs
are the other factors which cause internal migration,” said Prof
Indralal de Silva.
“What is important is the international migration since the huge bulk
of migrants are related to this category. Seeking educational
opportunities cum jobs are the two main reasons why people migrate into
other lands,” he said.
When asked why a special day has been proclaimed as International
Migration Day Prof De Silva went on saying that this is basically to
create awareness of the society regarding migration and protect the
rights of the migrants.
“Majority of Sri Lankans are migrated into Middle East. On the other
hand most among the migrants who embarked on countries like USA, UK,
Australia, Canada, France, and Germany are for to seek permanent
residence. They go there with their families. Apart from that labour
migration which claims 1.6 million to 1.8 for Middle East only for
labour objectives. Most of them work there under contract basis for an
agreed period of time.”
Labourers migrated into South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia
and Taiwan are another group of migrants that migrated within Asia. They
also labour in other lands on contract basis to meet the lack of work
force in those countries. But only few people who are under legally
endorsed agreements work in those countries. Most among the migrants are
undocumented,” said Prof Indralal.
They go out of the shores of Sri Lanka by illegal means. There are
many instances that they travel by fishing boats from areas such as
Dondra and Negombo.
But some employers in the countries where these illegal intruders
step in accept them, because those illegal migrants can be bought for
low wages and they can be exploited easily since there are no bonds
between the employers and the workers. But the small payment those
workers get is no small when it is translated into Sri Lankan currency.
So that’s why illegal means of getting into those countries has been
incrementally encouraged. This is one of the challenges faced by our
country due to undocumented migrants since Government cannot take the
responsibility of them.
To address this situation Government should try its best to reach
bilateral agreements with the countries where our migrants would like to
seek greener pasture.
If this negative trend is to be nipped in the bud Government should
take the whole monitoring process into its hands. Otherwise, it will
become a mess, predicted Prof Indralal de Silva.
According to him many witness how employers are brutally assaulting
those workers. This has been one of the major problems faced by the
“Majority among those who go to Middle East are women. It is an
overwhelming majority. They go there to work as house maids. Actually,
we have developed a migration policy to which I also contributed.
According to our conclusion this women who migrants to work as
housemaids should be discouraged. When they go to a house hold to work
they are detached from the outside world. They are the vulnerable lot.
They have to work under the thumb of the master not according to a
bilateral agreement. But when we take a nurse for instance she or he is
open for the outside.
They work under an agreement to a company which conducts under rules
and regulations. So that’s why we came to a conclusion to discourage the
women who go Middle East as house maids.
“Even there’s lack of communication skills and the ineptitude to work
with sophisticated instruments since those households are fully
sophisticated. Before they go there those language abilities and
technical knowledge to work with sophisticated tools should be gained,”
Discerning the importance of migrant workers he said, US$ 4 million
flows into country coffers thanks to these workers per month. When they
come back they come with what they have earn. I mean not only money but
also their experience.
But unfortunately our country has not yet adapted a methodology to
tap their abilities for the country’s well-being once they come back.”
Our unemployment problem is not aggravated due to the opportunities
to which our people are open to seek job in other lands.
But the ugly side of this migration, is women cause family
disintegration which is highly detrimental for the societal development
of the country since family is the building block of the society.
Philippine experience is one of the good examples and solution for
this family disintegration. The workers of Philippine in Middle East
contact their children everyday day through ICT devices. Since that
country is well equipped with ICT facilities that way’s most possible.
Anyhow if we can develop a device for the continuous contact with the
mothers who work in other lands with children who are here it may be
great solution to address the social problem of children of those
families who go astray and be duped into abusive activities.
Anyway, my opinion on well skilled employees is that they should be
here since development projects are accelerated to boost our economy.
So, the country needs man power and human resources. We have to be
careful in this matter not to encourage them to go abroad in search of
jobs since they are the most essential people of the hour.”