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29 February 2024

Visit visa scam surfaces in Sri Lanka's Eastern Province

By Correspondent

Sri Lankan customs officials at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake stopped two women from the Eastern Province from departing to the Middle East for jobs on Thursday  April 4, as their visas were visit visas and not work visas.

It is learnt the women had believed they were going to work in the Middle East as maids, but were not aware that their visas were only visit visas valid for three months.

The Human Rights Commission in Batticaloa has received numerous complaints from women who have been cheated and made to believe that they are offered jobs in the Middle East, but in fact were only provided with a three-month visit visa.

Co-ordinator for the Human Rights Commission, Batticaloa, E. Manoharan, told ‘Ceylon Today’ three women from Trincomalee had checked through the customs with visit visas to the Middle East. “Customs officials said on inquiry they had found out the women were under the impression that they were taking up jobs in the Middle East,” he said.

Manoharan said the customs officers who detected the fraud had explained to the unsuspecting women that they cannot work with a visit visa. Following this, the women had opted to go back home.

The agents, it is claimed, had trained the women to say that they are leaving to join their husbands in those countries. “The women were not passing through the customs illegally as they had a valid visa. If that was not detected, these women would have been stranded in the Middle East,” Monoharan said.

De-miner killed in mine explosion

Sri Lankan police said a local de-miner was killed when a mine exploded on Monday April 8 when he was clearing mines in Muhamalai area near Jaffna, the ‘Colombo Gazette’ reported.

The victim identified as K. Murugeau, a resident of Kilinochchi, was working for the HALO Trust, a non-governmental organisation.

HALO Sri Lanka has cleared over 650 hectares (1,607 acres) of minefields between 2002 and October 2012 and over 1,640 hectares (4,052) acres of battle area clearance while destroying more than 143,000 landmines, 51,500 items of large calibre ammunition and 440,000 bullets.

500 mainly high density minefields and former battlefields were the focus of the NGO’s work and over 7,139 emergency ‘call-out’ tasks, including over 5,000 during the height of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) return process, have been completed by the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) teams along with Sri Lanka army engineers.

Beware of bright yellow bananas

Sri Lanka’s Bakery Owners' Association, Asela Sampath, has warned  consumers to be careful while buying bananas, as the amount of chemicals used to ripen the fruit has increased, ‘Ceylon Today’ reports.

Asela Sampath, national organiser of the association, said traders use chemicals to make the banana peel bright yellow to dupe consumers.

"These chemicals can cause kidney failure. Since the demand for bananas goes up during the festive season, traders resort to chemicals," Sampath said, adding, "Traders don't use traditional methods to ripen fruits as it takes considerable time."