Foreign Secretary Aryasinha says “future footprint of foreign employment Sri Lanka will provide the world, though probably smaller, could be smarter and more sustainable”

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha has observed that despite its immediate gloom, the present situation has been an eye opener in many respects that could help correct structural, procedural and human interface incongruities in Sri Lanka’s labour migration. It also presents an opportunity for Sri Lanka to re-orient foreign employment in a post-Covid-19 world, sensitive to the ground realities in both Sri Lanka and the migrant labour receiving countries, so that the future footprint of Foreign Employment Sri Lanka will provide the world – though probably Smaller, could be Smarter and more Sustainable.

The Foreign Secretary made these observations when he addressed the 33rd Annual Session of the Organization of Professional Associations (OPA) via a video link, on the theme “The Role of Foreign Employment in the Economic Revival of Sri Lanka; Challenges and Opportunities”.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa inaugurated this year’s Annual OPA Session held on 27-28 June 2020 as a Digital Conference, on the theme ‘Bounce Back–Disasters and Opportunities”.

Secretary Aryasinha said the Covid-19 crisis had exposed the significant number of Sri Lankan migrant workers abroad who are undocumented/irregular, and as a result are ineligible to avail of medical and other benefits in their host countries, and are also vulnerable to deportation if identified. Also many of them non-registering with the SLBFE was a matter of concern. It is believed that some, who might have originally registered at the point of leaving the country, might not have subsequently renewed their registration. He urged that they register so that they enjoy the benefits of an expanded social safety net, as successfully practiced by migrant workers in countries like the Philippines, where the percentage of registered migrant workers is 96.8%.

He said, even for those who are legal, a consequence of Covid-19 has been the shrinking of the employment market, particularly with the increasing cases of unemployment, loss of contracts, non-extension of work permits and halting of temporary freelance work, which have left many of them largely destitute. It was noted that this could lead to a serious shortfall in the numbers of migrant workers who will leave for work this year and in turn a drop in worker remittances. In 2019, migrant worker’s remittances to foreign exchange earnings was 25.5 %, while its contribution to Sri Lanka’s GDP was approximately 8%.

Secretary Aryasinha said, the present situation could help in building more forward looking and resilient policies and strategies that can ensure ‘sustainable and just economies’. He noted that Sri Lanka which has had the opportunity to design and provide input on certain crucial regional modalities within the Colombo Process and the Abu Dhabi Dialogue – which  brings together the Asian migrant labour sending countries, and also connects them with the labour receiving countries in the GCC, could together with the ILO and IOM, also play a greater role in the post-COVID scenario for the benefit of the migrant workers, as well as the sending and receiving countries. This would include;

–          ensuring the outward flow of a better trained and skilled migrant worker, one who will while able to earn more, is less likely to face the vulnerabilities presently encountered by the average Sri Lankan migrant worker, particularly the unskilled workers,

–          combine market research platforms to generate vocational training programmes that will serve future job markets and economic demands in countries post Covid-19, and recalibrate to inspire a work force that meets that demand,

–          re-formulate our education systems, and re-orient students to be a rich human resource pool for future labour markets,

–          expedite action in enhancing cheaper, safer and faster modes of remittance flows,

–          ensure that ‘migrant health’ becomes a cornerstone in the management of migrant populations.

The Foreign Secretary emphasized that the recent crisis has helped break the silos and ensure better intra-governmental coordination in dealing with matters concerning migrant workers – both in Colombo, as well as in the destination countries. He said, “this augurs well for future collaborative efforts as an essential element that has helped us to thrive in this unprecedented circumstance to deliver as one. We should now look forward to further strengthening and build in a strong protocol for the ‘whole of government’ approach on issues concerning foreign employment”.


Ministry of Foreign Relations


01 July 2020

Full Speech attached

Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in discussions on matters of bilateral interest

Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo engaged in discussions on matters of bilateral interest in a telephone conversation on 29 June evening.

US-Sri Lanka cooperation in COVID response-supply of PPEs to the US, donation of ventilators to Sri Lanka and COVID related bilateral assistance amounting to US$ 5.8 million- economic recovery initiatives, defence and security matters, counter terrorism and international economic cooperation featured in the discussions.

Minister Gunawardena briefed his US counterpart on the Review Report of the MCC, the forthcoming Parliamentary elections and thanked the US for the support extended to the reconciliation and resettlement processes in Sri Lanka.

He conveyed Sri Lanka’s felicitations for the forthcoming US Independence Day on 4th of July.

Ministry of Foreign Relations


30 June 2020

Statement Issued by the Sri Lanka High Commission, Canberra


The attention of the Sri Lanka High Commission in Australia has been drawn to certain politically motivated social media posts in Australia.

The High Commission wishes to express its serious concern over the disinformation and racially-charged statements that may engender disharmony, tension and division among the heterogeneous community of Sri Lankan origin domiciled in Australia and the Mission is of the view that such baseless assertions may adversely impact their peaceful- coexistence. Read More »

Revised Instructions on PCR testing and Quarantine procedures for DPLs entering Sri Lanka

Following the revised instructions issued on 4 June 2020 by the Presidential Secretariat on the PCR testing and quarantine procedures for the members of the Diplomatic corps based/attached in Colombo when they enter/re-enter Sri Lanka in order to prevent and minimize the risk of the spread of the Coronavirus, the Ministry of Foreign Relations, took immediate action to convey the same to all Diplomatic Missions, the Representation Offices of the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies, International Organizations, Honorary Consulates resident in Colombo through diplomatic channels.

The revised instructions state as follows:


–       The respective Diplomatic Missions may inform the Ministry of Foreign Relations (MFR) by a Note Verbal, the details of the diplomats and their family members who are scheduled for entry/ re-entry into Sri Lanka for the diplomatic assignments well in advance in order to obtain the prior approval from the concerned authorities.

–       The members of the Diplomatic staff and their family members need to submit PCR test reports obtained within 72 hours prior to their departure from respective countries.

–       If the members of the Diplomatic staff and their family members are unable to provide PCR test reports, they would be subjected to a mandatory PCR test at the Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake.

–       Heads of Mission and family members will self-quarantine at the Official Residences.  All other arriving Diplomatic staff and their family members will have to follow quarantine procedures at a hotel, recommended by the Government of Sri Lanka (if independent/separate residences are not available), for a period of 14 days, subject to concurrence and supervision of the Heads of Mission.

–       The Diplomatic Missions/Representations need to inform the Ministry of Foreign Relations once the 14-day home quarantine is completed and submit the second PCR test report done by the Mission before the Officer resumes duties in the Mission as per the measures taken by the Mission to control and prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

–       The Diplomatic Missions/Representations have to forward the travel details of the Diplomatic staff and their family members at least 48 hours prior to their departure to the Chief of Protocol of the Ministry.

The Foreign Ministry further notes that travel by Diplomatic Officers to Sri Lanka will be approved, subject to their concurrence to follow the above procedures issued by the Government of Sri Lanka.

Ministry of Foreign Relations                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


5 June 2020

Direct returnees from overseas for quarantine after PCR test results are known – President

Direct returnees from overseas for quarantine after PCR test results are known – President

  • Everyone will have the opportunity to return to Motherland
  • Medi lab at airport premises
  • Possibility to conduct PCR tests in relevant countries explored


President Gotabaya Rajapaksa instructed the officials to send returnees from foreign countries for quarantine only after results of PCR tests conducted at the airport itself are known.

President also said to accommodate them at a separate location equipped with all the necessary facilities until the test results are released.

President issued these directives during a discussion with the members of the Task Force entrusted with COVID – 19 control and medical consultants at the Presidential Secretariat today (4).

Issues emerged during the conduct of PCR tests and sending returnees from abroad, especially those who are from Middle East, for quarantine were discussed in depth at the meeting.

It was decided to set up a laboratory at the airport premises in order to speed up obtaining results of PCR tests. Since the pandemic may last for a considerable time, President highlighted the importance of having such a facility at the airport.

It was also decided to explore the possibility of conducting PCR tests in relevant countries themselves with the direct mediation of the Sri Lankan Government or with the support of those countries.

The early detection of the infected in this manner will ease difficulties that could arise when sending them to hospitals and quarantine.

President said that opportunities should avail as soon as possible for everyone who wishes to return to the Motherland.

Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Governor of the Western Province Marshal of the Air Force Roshan Goonetileke, Principal Advisor to the President, Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary Defence Major General (Retired) Kamal Gunaratne, Secretary to the Ministry of Health Major General (Dr.) Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Commanders of Tri-Forces, Acting Inspector-General of Police, the members of the Task Force, Director General of Health Services and consultant doctors participated in this meeting.


Mohan Karunaratne

Deputy Director


Media release by president media division

Message of H.E.the President on the occasion of Ramazan

My heartiest greetings to all Muslims in Sri Lanka, who celebrate the Ramazan or Eid-ul-fitr together with the Islam devotees around the World.

Ramazan or Eid-ul-fitr is one of the most important festivals in the Islamic religious calendar observed by the Muslim community after a month of fasting, and sighting of the crescent moon.

Sawm or the fasting during the month of Ramazan better known as one of Five Pillars of Islam conveys the message of importance of adhering to an exemplary practice while abstaining from physical luxuries. This period of abstinence is a great opportunity to develop a sensitivity towards the starving people in the world as well as to practice the ability of self-control.

The Ramazan rituals show that one could create a peaceful living environment in an era like this, when the entire world is facing a highly complex crisis hitherto not existed in the history, only through being conscious of others’ sentiments, while being inclined to achieve self-control in all spheres. The spirit of Islamic brotherhood existed in the Sri Lankan society since ancient times is exemplary to the world. We should never allow any harm to that brotherhood due to acts of a small number of extremists. The true Islamic devotees believe that the extremist beliefs are against the core values of Islam. Hence, I believe that we should strongly commit to follow the teachings of the Holy Quran while eliminating the mistrust and suspicion during this period of Ramazan.

I extend my best wishes to all Islam devotees in Sri Lanka as well as around the world and may the spirit of the month of Ramazan heal the world.


Gotabaya Rajapaksa

May 23rd, 2020

Message of H.E.the President on the occasion of Ramazan (Sinhala Version)

Message of H.E.the President on the occasion of Ramazan (Tamil Version)                                            

Register with the High Commission

The Sri Lankan High Commission in Canberra would like to keep in touch with Sri Lankans and persons of Sri Lankan origin living in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and other Pacific Islands as well as Sri Lankan community organisations in those countries.

If you are a current/former Sri Lankan or an office bearer of a Sri Lankan community organisation we invite you to register with the High Commission.


Contact Us

61 Hampton Circuit, Yarralumla, Canberra
ACT 2600

Tel: (02) 6198 3756
Fax: (02) 6198 3760


Locate Us