Filipinos in crisis-hit Sri Lanka to get $300 in aid: DFA

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 31 2022 12:33 PM | Updated as of May 31 2022 01:25 PM

People wait to buy fuel at a gas station amid a fuel shortage in Colombo, Sri Lanka, May 24, 2022. Sri Lanka raised petrol prices by 24.3 percent and diesel by 38.4 percent on May 24 amid the country's worst economic crisis in decades due to the lack of foreign exchange, resulting in severe shortages in food, fuel, medicine, and imported goods. Protests have been rocking the country for weeks, calling for the resignation of the president and government over the alleged failure to address the worsening current economic crisis. Chamila Karunarathne, EPA-EFE
People wait to buy fuel at a gas station amid a fuel shortage in Colombo, Sri Lanka, May 24, 2022. Sri Lanka raised petrol prices by 24.3 percent and diesel by 38.4 percent on May 24 amid the country's worst economic crisis in decades due to the lack of foreign exchange, resulting in severe shortages in food, fuel, medicine, and imported goods. Protests have been rocking the country for weeks, calling for the resignation of the president and government over the alleged failure to address the worsening current economic crisis. Chamila Karunarathne, EPA-EFE

MANILA — Filipinos in Sri Lanka will receive financial aid from the Philippine government as the South Asian nation faces its worst economic crisis in decades, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.

According to Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola, Filipinos in Sri Lanka will receive $300 and will also be offered free repatriation flights.

"Wala naman tayong nabalitaan na nadamay sa kaguluhan [sa Sri Lanka]... Nahihirapan lang talaga sila financially dahil sa inflation na nangyayari dun sa bansa," she said in a Laging Handa press briefing.

(We did not receive information on any Filipino who was affected by the unrest. They are just really struggling financially because of inflation.) 

Sri Lanka has suffered months of dire shortages of food and medicines, as well as intensifying anti-government protests due to shortage in foreign exchange.

There are about 492 Filipinos in the cash-strapped South Asian nation, more than half of them are married to Sri Lankans.

So far, only 25 Filipinos have signified interest to return to the Philippines, Arriola said. Those with children are only asked to provide birth certificates and proof that a parent is a Filipino citizen, she added.

A rapid response team from the DFA is expected to arrive in Sri Lanka on June 2 to oversee the situation of Filipinos living there.

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Courtesy of Radio Television Malacañang - RTVM

An unprecedented shortage of foreign exchange to import even the most essential supplies has led to severe hardships for the country's 22 million people.

Diesel prices have increased 230 percent and petrol has gone up 137 percent in the past 6 months. 

Both are in short supply and motorists have to queue, sometimes for days, to fill up.

Bus and taxi fares have risen by up to 50 percent, sparking price increases in almost all goods and services, officials said.

The government last month asked the International Monetary Fund for urgent financial assistance. Talks are continuing. 

The country has defaulted on its $51 billion foreign debt. 

Its currency has depreciated by 44.2 percent against the US dollar this year, while inflation hit a record 33.8 percent last month. 

— With a report from Agence France-Presse