IOM and ILO Collaborate with Government of Japan to Support the Socioeconomic Reintegration of Repatriated Sri Lankan Migrant Workers

Photo: IOM

Colombo – Migrant workers are among the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and are at risk of unemployment and non-payment of wages. Sri Lankan migrant workers who opt to return require immediate, medium and long-term interventions to recover from the socioeconomic impact. Upon their return, migrant workers encounter social, economic, and psychological challenges, and require immediate, medium, and long-term interventions for effective reintegration into their communities. To address these challenges, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have collaborated with the Government of Japan on an initiative to support the socioeconomic reintegration of repatriated Sri Lankan migrant workers. The Exchange of Notes were signed between His Excellency Mr. SUGIYAMA Akira, Ambassador of Japan, and Mr. Sarat Dash, Chief of Mission, IOM Sri Lanka today at the Ambassador’s Residence in Colombo. Hon. Mr. Nimal Siripala De Silva, Minister of Labour, was also present at the ceremony.

This two-year project at a cost of JPY 187 million (approx. Rs. 340 million) aims to contribute to the socioeconomic reintegration of Sri Lankan migrant workers that have repatriated due to the COVID-19 outbreak. “The project is aligned to the national priorities as outlined in the National COVID-19 Response Plan for Migrant Workers (NRPMW), developed by the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment under the guidance of the State Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotions & Market Diversification, and the Ministry of Labour with joint technical assistance from ILO and IOM. We are grateful for the timely support from the Government of Japan for this important initiative towards socio-economic recovery”, said Mr. Sarat Dash, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Sri Lanka. Ms. Simrin Singh, ILO Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives noted that, “Three parallel processes will take place: protection of returnee migrants and preparing them for effective social reintegration; skills development for future employment opportunities and integration in the national labour market; and institutional capacity strengthening of vocational centres to service returnee migrants effectively. Very importantly, a special focus on women migrant worker returnees is prioritized to enhance their skills for better socioeconomic reintegration”. Ambassador Sugiyama stated, “As a long-standing cordial partner, Japan is determined to support Sri Lanka to overcome challenges posed by COVID-19 global pandemic. Japan hopes that this assistance, which symbolizes our mutual solidarity in the joint combat against Covid-19, contributes greatly to socioeconomic recovery of both repatriated migrant workers and their returned community members, thereby facilitating harmony in the country.

It is our great honor to take forward this timely initiative together with IOM and ILO, which also contributes to empowering female returnees”. In continuation of the support to GoSL, IOM (with support from the Government of Japan and the Government of Switzerland) equipped the Bandaranaike International Airport with advanced PCR-testing machines and test kits, and has also assisted migrant returnee communities in Anuradhapura, with support from the Government of Australia. Further ILO support to GoSL includes economic reintegration of returnee workers affected by COVID-19 through targeted skills development and employment programmes across the country and implementation of the National Labour Migration Policy, which has continued over a decade with the support of the Government of Switzerland. Additionally, the ILO is supporting the healthy socio-economic recovery of the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises affected by COVID-19 with support from the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund. In addition, IOM Sri Lanka, as Chair of the recently launched UN Network on Migration in Sri Lanka, continues its support to operationalize the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in order to facilitate migration-related interventions for increased coordination and cooperation.


For more information, please contact: Nisansala Gunarathne, IOM Sri Lanka, Tel. +94112112600; Email –

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