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Saturday 8 January 2005

Good news for Sri Lankans in Lebanon, tsunami causes visa charges to be waived

The Lebanese Government will waive visa charges from those residing illegally in the country considering the predicament which hit Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment said in a media release. Sri Lankans staying without valid visas will be sent back to Sri Lanka without charging visa fees, Bureau Chairman Karunasena Hettiarachchi said.

The Lebanese Government has taken steps to send Sri Lankans from January 7 to 20. About 80,000 Sri Lankans are employed in Lebanon and about 25 per cent stay illegally. The Chairman said these Sri Lankans have been in that country illegally for over four to 15 years. These people owe US $40,000,000 as visa fees to the Lebanese Government. Labour Relations and Foreign Employment Minister Athavuda Seneviratne in his discussions with the Lebanese government during his September visit requested the Sri Lankans staying their illegally be released without levying a charge for their stay. Sources said the Lebanese government has also decided to send around 200 Sri Lankans staying in prisons along with the others.

Source: Online Edition of Daily News
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