Press Release —Local June 18, 2020

IOM Scales Up Its Support for Government of Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 Response

Handover to Maj. General (Rtd) G.A.Chandrasiri, Chairman of  Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Limited (AASL)
Handover at BIA
Handover at MoH
Handover at MoH

Colombo, Sri Lanka – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is supporting the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL)’s COVID 19 pandemic response through the Project Sri Lanka: Technical Assistance to the Government to Prepare and Respond to COVID-19.

The project aims to support the internal and cross-border coordination of migrant and mobile populations by alleviating associated barriers that include inadequate access to credible information; eradicating stigma and discrimination and removing language barriers faced by migrants.

As the lead UN agency providing support at Points of Entry (POE) in Sri Lanka, IOM will also render assistance towards the health and border preparedness responses at POE through this project. The project is funded by the Government of Japan and is in line with the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plans (SPRP) of the GoSL.

IOM, with support from the Government of Japan, has procured and delivered several equipment and supplies at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo. It included eight health inspection and interview counters, 50 full-duplex counter communication system for immigration counters, four temperature screening thermal sensor camera systems, 15 hand-held medical infrared thermometers.

Protective equipment and materials like KN95 masks, disposable 3-ply non-woven surgical masks, disposable PPE overalls, examination gloves, alcohol hand rub sanitizers, disposable face shields and reusable surgical boots were also donated. An additional three temperature screening thermal sensor camera systems and 10 mobile passport reader kits with necessary accessories for remote passenger clearance are being procured with assistance from the Government of Australia.

“Preparedness at the Point of Entry is crucial for the revival of economic activities in the country including tourism. IOM feels privileged to be a part of this initiative, and we are grateful to the Government of Japan and Government of Australia for their generous support,” said Sarat Dash, IOM Chief of Mission in Sri Lanka.

Speaking at the event, Maj. General (Rtd) G.A.Chandrasiri, Chairman of Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Limited (AASL), said, “Ever since the COVID-19 virus began to threaten the whole world as a pandemic, our aviation industry too was severely affected. As the civil airport operator, AASL took every possible measure at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) to minimize the impact.” He added, “I take this opportunity to convey my sincere thanks to IOM for their invaluable contribution by donating enhanced health screening equipment and other supplies worth 45 million LKR for the use of the BIA. We have collectively worked hard to establish health and safety measures at the airport according to the guidelines of Sri Lanka Health Authorities. We as the airport operator can now say very confidently that we are ready to re-open the airport for international passengers at any time.”

Meanwhile, earlier this month, also thanks to the assistance from the Government of Japan, IOM handed over 100 Public Addressing Systems to the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Indigenous Medical Services. Procured at the cost of 5 million LKR, the systems will be used by the MoH to disseminate health information across the island.

Risk Communication Materials focused on quarantine messages for returnee migrants and on Safe Shopping for display at grocery stores both for the shop owners and customers, designed and printed under the project, were also handed over in a special function arranged at the MoH.

“As we move towards relaxing the curfew, it is extremely important that the public are constantly reminded of the precautions they need to take in their private or professional life. We greatly appreciate the support provided and the equipment support is timely and in line with the priorities of the Ministry”, said Pavithra Devi Wanniarachchi, Hon. Minister for Health.

For more information, please contact at IOM Sri Lanka, Cassandra Van Heer at Tel: +94 11 211 2600, Email: CVANHEER@iom.int