The Office for Overseas Sri Lankan Affairs (OOSLA) marks the International Migrants Day 2023 – launches an online platform to enhance connectivity with the Overseas Sri Lankans

The newly established office for coordinating engagement with the Sri Lankans living overseas debuts its work as the central agency to connect with the Overseas Sri Lankans (OSLs) with their home country with an event hosted on 18 December, combining celebration and intellectual discourse.

Director General of OOSLA:
Mr. Krishnamoorthy

Choosing the International Migrants Day to launch OOSLA is a deliberate choice in recognition of the services and contributions by Sri Lanka’s migrant population, and the priority attached by the Government to engage with them”, said the Director General of OOSLA, Mr. Krishnamoorthy welcoming the gathering present at the Office of the President.

Director General highlighted that it was based on the vision of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, that the office was established, and it commenced operations in January 2023. Mr. Krishnamoorthy further noted that over 3 million Overseas Sri Lankans, who have emigrated for diverse reasons, has significantly influenced and contributed to the country’s socio-economic development. Having set up the office with firm institutional and policy backing signifies OOSLA from the many previous efforts made in engaging the expatriate community in the past.


The event was hosted under the patronage of Hon. President Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe, and the Chief of Staff and the Senior Advisor to the President on National Security, Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka, graced the occasion and together with the Hon. Foreign Minister Mr. Ali Sabry, joined in launching the OOSLA website (, and also presenting a memento to the Key Note Speaker of the event, Professor Emeritus Lakshman Samaranayake of Hong Kong University, in recognition of the exemplary services rendered by him to Sri Lanka, and to acknowledge his collaborations with the Office for Overseas Sri Lankan Affairs.

Senior Advisor to the President:
Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka

Hon. Foreign Minister:
Mr. Ali Sabry

Key Note Speech: Professor Emeritus Lakshman Samaranayake

Addressing the gathering, the Chief of Staff Mr. Ratnayaka emphasized that being part of the diaspora does not make someone an extremist or anti-Sri Lankan, and irrespective of ethnicity or religion, all Sri Lankans living outside the country to be considered as part of the diaspora. Acknowledging the historical events in Sri Lanka that have created distance between the country and its diaspora, said they face challenges when they want to contribute to the country’s development. He emphasized the importance of engaging the diaspora and creating an environment that encourages their return and investment.

Emphasizing on the significance of International Migrants Day, and highlighting the challenges and opportunities associated with migration, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Sabry, underscored the need for proactively engaging with the Overseas Sri Lankans, both permanent migrants and temporary workers abroad. He emphasized the challenges faced by those who have migrated and expressed the importance of engaging the OSLs with respect, dignity, and a sense of belonging, in line with the principles outlined in the country’s constitution. He said establishing the Office of Overseas Sri Lankans (OOSLA) was a significant step towards addressing the concerns and needs of the diaspora.


Panel Discussion: “Celebrating for a Better Sri Lanka: Unlocking the Potentials”

The Chief of Mission for International Organization for Migration (IOM) Sri Lanka, Mr. Sarat Dash, expressing the full support of the IOM to OOSLA, recalled the international commitments through the Global Compact on Migration (GCM), and also through the Sustainable Development Goals, that Member States have ‘prioritized diaspora engagement for development in countries of origin, transit and residence’. He further said “Overseas Sri Lankans are a key stakeholder in the social cohesion and reconciliation journey of the country as well” and suggested to realize it through a mutually benefiting dialogue, addressing the needs of overseas Sri Lankans and that of Sri Lanka –the country of origin.

The day’s proceedings also included a substantive thematic discussion on ‘Celebrating for a Better Sri Lanka: Unlocking the Potentials”, bringing in a rich dialogue on four interconnected areas, presented by four distinguish panelists, and ably moderated by Senior Lecturer of Faculty of Arts of the University of Colombo, Dr Pavithra Jayawardane.

Launch of the official website of OOSLA

Bringing in the views of political and institutional dimensions of diaspora engagements and assessing the previous efforts, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, the Executive Director of Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute (LKI), shared his views. Looking beyond the remittances of migrants, Dr. Bilesha Weeraratne, Research Fellow, Head of Migration and Urbanization Research of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) unravels the facts and fictions on the economic aspects associated with Overseas Sri Lankans. Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam, who also currently serves as a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Migrant Workers and the Welfare of their families (CMW) drew the attention to the importance of a human-centric approach to migrants and migration journey from an overly state and security centric approach.  A distinguished Overseas Sri Lankan, who is a green architect and the past President of the American Architects Association spoke about the challenges and perspectives of Sri Lankans overseas in engaging with their home country, and aspects that needs to be addressed to encourage their involvement in the development of the country.

Presenting the votes of thanks and highlighting the way forward for OOLSA in achieving its mandate, Ambassador Esala Weerakoon, the Senior Additional Secretary to the Hon. President presented three salient points, namely, operationalize OOSLA with a dynamic, problem solving, and result oriented business approach, Legalize OOSLA to make it a lasting institution with a significant impact to both OSLs and Sri Lanka, and Change ideals to value OLSs and their abiding, familial, and sentimental links with Sri Lanka, such that they are treated as an asset to the country.

The event conducted in hybrid mode had participants, including Ambassadors, High Commissioners, and Secretaries of Ministries representing foreign countries, and a substantial number of Sri Lankans residing abroad engaged through online technology.