Youth exodus continues, 2,000 passports daily

Dinitha Rathnayake 

Sri Lankan youth between the ages of 20 and 30 are leaving the country due to the economic crisis and the resultant lack of a proper goal or an objective to study, work, or live, with around 2,000 people waiting outside the Immigration and Emigration Department office in Battaramulla on a daily basis in order to obtain their passports.

22-year-old Thisara Randam said: ”There is a difference between the food we used to eat before and what we eat now. For Rs. 1,000, what you could do before and now are so different. We are still dependent on our parents. We are angry about this economic crisis. We are so frustrated. Before, if we had Rs. 5,000, we could live for two weeks, but now we cannot do it. 

“Everyone has the same problem. The biggest issue is for the people who are between 20 and 30 years. They have to build a house. People who are above 30 years have completed their tasks, but we have to build a house, buy a car, and earn money. If we get married, we have to take care of the spouse as well. I have to think about those expenditures as well – from clothes to food,“ he said.

Meanwhile, 26-year-old software engineer Manoj Randunu told that he is also concerned about his future and is applying for jobs overseas. “Salaries are not enough. If my father comes home at around 11 p.m. from the office, he has to go to a queue, and then he has to go to the office again in the morning. Then again, the next day, he is in another queue. So most people are trying to migrate so that they can take care of their families. If I go abroad, I will not be able to take my family abroad at once but I can send money to my family so that they can survive.”

Some are applying for their first passport without having a clear idea as to their next course of action.

“I am from Anuradhapura and came on 16 July and am waiting in the queue till today (18). We slept on cardboard. There are no appointments on the department website and therefore, we will wait till we get our passport,“ one person said yesterday (18).


Some are trying to go to the Middle East as housemaids, while some are planning to go for skilled work.

“I am a nursing officer and applied for a Canadian visa. I am leaving this country due to the economic crisis. We cannot afford to live in this country,“ he said.

Sri Lanka is in the midst of its worst economic crisis since Independence in 1948 and citizens have been suffering from a shortage of fuel, food, medicine, and other essentials as well as daily power cuts – all due to an acute shortage of US dollars.

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