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Saturday, 18 December 2010






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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.

Illegal means

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 policy makers.

“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,” he said.

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.”


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