HomeUnited NationsAdrift at sea for 28 days, struggles continue for Sri Lankan migrants

Adrift at sea for 28 days, struggles continue for Sri Lankan migrants

SDG 16“The economic crisis took a toll on all of our lives,” said Selvan, a former well-respected warden at a well-known national college who spent his spare time rearing animals on a farm. “Even livestock farming became difficult when there was a ban on all imports, including fertilizers. My earnings as a public sector worker were not enough to survive.”The COVID-19 pandemic triggered the largest increase in inequalities between countries in three decades.The rumour spread. In another town about 50 km away, Ankita and her husband sold her small tailoring shop after languishing for months without customers. Using her house as collateral, she paid an agent ,000 for them to stake a claim onboard a ship towards a better future.

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Many businesses, especially microenterprises like Ankita’s shop, were severely impacted by the financial crisis in Sri Lanka.

Many businesses, especially microenterprises like Ankita’s shop, were severely impacted by the financial crisis in Sri Lanka.

While those who have returned insist they would never make the journey again, rumours of a new ship to Canada waiting offshore persist, with brokers lurking in the shadows and preying on people’s socioeconomic vulnerabilities.

While those who have returned insist they would never make the journey again, rumours of a new ship to Canada waiting offshore persist, with brokers lurking in the shadows and preying on people’s socioeconomic vulnerabilities.

“Everyone feared for their lives and regretted setting foot on board,” Ankita said, adding that 28 days would pass before a Japanese vessel responded to their distress signals.

Turning tides towards safe migration

The UN migration agency in Sri Lanka currently provides reintegration support and works with States and local authorities to provide basic psychosocial counselling, skills training opportunities and facilitate referral support, ensuring longer-term solutions for rescued migrants.© IOM/Anushma ShresthaA proud farm owner, Selvan struggled to sustain his livestock during the economic crisis in Sri Lanka.Selvan is heading out on his motorcycle to buy groceries from a nearby shop in the city of Jaffna in Sri Lanka, but the direct sunlight disturbs him, making it hard to concentrate, blurring his vision as his panic grows: he is back on a sinking ship packed with more than 300 other people, pounded by relentless waves, struggling to control his body.IOM supported the voluntary return and reintegration of the Sri Lankan people rescued following 28 days adrift at sea.

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