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Proposals made by Kiwi Sri Lankans to the New Zealand Government for the crisis in Sri Lanka

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Conversation with Vanushi Walters

A virtual meeting was initiated and organised by Duality New Zealand to address the major political , humanitarian and economic issues happening  in Sri Lanka. There were nearly 125 participants and they expressed concerns and proposed the following solutions:

Immediate actions required by New Zealand

  • Humanitarian aid and/or credit lines for essential goods
    • Milk for infants and low-income families – potential partnerships with Fonterra
    • Pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to address the acute shortage that could result in, as the medical association stresses ‘a catastrophic number of deaths’ – medical supplies for neonatal units were specifically mentioned

Vanushi requested that anyone who is already doing work in this area to get in touch with her office in order for them to get a clearer picture of what’s currently happening. She also mentioned that there are existing trusted international pipelines that could be used to send humanitarian aid.

  • Immigration and international student’s issues
    • Extend the visas of Sri Lankan nationals onshore
    • Process the visas of people offshore
    • Differ, waive or subsidise tuition fees of Sri Lankan students studying in New Zealand universities either in person or remotely
    • Provide family reunification pathways

Vanushi mentioned that they are expecting changes to the visa process to take place in July 2022 and that will then be communicated to the community. She also suggested to get in touch with the local MP regarding immigration issues as well.

  • Address human rights issues and corruption
  • As suggested in the petition, condemn the numerous and severe human rights breaches and the corruption by the current Sri Lankan government

Vanushi encouraged to address some of these issues during CHOGM that is scheduled to be held in June 2022

  • Other
    • Continue exporting tea and apparel from Sri Lanka despite potential supply chain issues
    • There were concerns about monetary donations from individuals as well as public and private entities being misappropriated by the existing government, and therefore this was discouraged unless you make directed donations to individuals (family) in Sri Lanka
    • Bridging finance in the form of low-interest loans, with a grace period and no strings attached to enhance the liquidity position and help build reserves of Sri Lanka in the short term while we negotiate terms with the IMF
    • Funding to revive existing social security programs that benefit low-income families through low-interest loans with an extended payback period

Long-term solutions that New Zealand can be a part of

  • Promote Sri Lanka as a tourist destination for New Zealanders
  • Promote other Sri Lankan exports such as ICT and Business Process Management services as well as electrical & electronic items within NZ and with its allies

Vanushi proposed holding separate discussions on topics such as human rights issues, immigration, and long-term solutions. She welcomed further comments, questions, and ideas to be sent to ethnic_communities_labour@parliament.govt.nz


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