Embassy of Sri Lanka in Thailand has established a 24/7 emergency contact (+66 226 11 938 and +6626657299), and also has setup social media groups covering the Sri Lankan communities in Thailand, and Laos- the two accredited countries and also with Cambodia, given the emergency situation, through which, regular information and updates with regard to government policies and regulations and other useful details are being shared regularly. As part of this ongoing engagements the Embassy has scheduled a series of clustered virtual meetings in the coming days with the Sri Lankan students.
As of date, a total of 486 Sri Lankans from Thailand have registered in the Embassy’s databases , and among them are 120 students from across 14 universities and institutions in Thailand. In keeping with the recommendation and directives of the respective Governments of Sri Lanka, and Thailand, the Embassy is urging the Sri Lankans to follow necessary safety measures and medical advice and to remain where they are, minimizing social contacts. The student community is staying safely in their universities and continues to engage in online learning, while certain universities have ensured mentoring facilities to cope up with the difficulties. All students and rest of the Overseas Sri Lankans have access to all essential grocery items despite partial lock downs and restrictions pursuant to emergency decrees imposed by all three countries.
It is reported that 44 Sri Lankans are currently being stranded in Thailand and 5 more from Lao PDR and Cambodia. The Embassy has paid particular attention to those Sri Lankans whose visas are expiring, since the Airports in Sri Lanka remain closed for all incoming passenger flights with effect from 19 March 2020. In support of the visa extensions for those stranded, the Embassy has been issuing confirmation letters facilitating the renewal of visas. However, considering their safety, the Embassy made further representations to the Royal Thai Government, for an ‘automatic renewal’ of the temporary visit visas, which help prevent the individuals from visiting crowded immigration offices, thus limiting their chances of exposure to the virus. The Embassy hopes that the Royal Thai Government would make an official announcement soon in this regard. The Embassy also continues to keep close contacts with the five Sri Lankans stranded in Laos and Cambodia as well, including to get their visas extended, particularly with the support of the Honorary Consulate in the Vientiane-Laos PDR .
The Embassy is also in touch with another 58 and 130 Overseas Sri Lankans respectively from Lao PDR and Cambodia, who are holding professional positions in these two countries. In view of the recent policy announcement by the Government of Sri Lanka requesting all Sri Lankan expatriates to remain safely in their current locations until the risk of COVID-19 is contained in the country, on instructions of the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Sri Lanka, the Embassy launched a preparatory data collection process, to help keep the Government of Sri Lanka informed of the numbers requesting to return to Sri Lanka, as and when the situation in Sri Lanka improves, and for planning any future evacuation arrangements. Steps have also been taken to invite the overseas Sri Lankan community to join voluntarily the ‘contact Sri Lanka’, online portal jointly created by the Ministry of Foreign Relations and Information & Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) recently. As of date, a total of 226 Overseas Sri Lankans have joined the portal from the three countries.
Makeshift home offices have been set up in the residences of diplomatic officers of the Mission while all staff members, including local staff, work from home to ensure smooth operation of the regular consular and other work of the Embassy. All necessary contact information have been shared with the Thai government agencies, Sri Lankan community and stranded Sri Lankans. Daily updates from respective Governments are being added to the Embassy website www.slembbkk.com and social media ports (https://twitter.com/SLinBangkok / https://www.facebook.com/slemb.bangkok/) to keep the public informed of all important information regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Embassy also being the accredited Permanent Mission to the UNESCAP has also been participating in the virtual meetings conducted in preparation of the forthcoming 7th session of the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (7th APFSD) and the 76th Commission Session of the ESCAP respectively, on 20 and 21 May 2020, which will also be held as virtual meetings.