Anura Jayasurya and wife Renuka Sanjeewani at Rolla Park, Sharjah.


Sri Lankan couple duped by recruiter and forced to sleep in Sharjah park returns home


DUBAI – A Sri Lankan couple who were victims of human trafficking in the UAE returned to their home country on Saturday after getting amnesty, according to a newspaper report.

The couple were forced to sleep in a Sharjah park for two weeks after escaping from a recruitment agent who locked them up in a villa in Ajman.

According to The National, Anura Jayasurya and wife Renuka Sanjeewani arrived in Dubai in August after they were offered employment by a recruiter whom they paid 300,000 Sri Lankan rupees (Dh6,373).

Instead of getting the job that they were promised, they were housed in a villa in Ajman where they were locked up and forced to sleep on the floor in separate rooms. Sanjeewani was also made to work without pay.

“At one point, I wanted to commit suicide when I was separated from my husband and we were kept in separate rooms,” Sanjeewani told the newspaper.

They were able to escape from the villa in November and stayed at Rolla park in Sharjah where they slept on cardboard for two weeks.

They occasionally received food from passers-by until they were referred to the Sri Lankan mission in the UAE to apply for amnesty. Volunteers also helped raise money to pay for their airline tickets.

The couple’s visa expired in September, which meant they technically did not qualify for amnesty that could only be granted to those who have residency violations prior to August 1, 2018.

However, Sri Lankan authorities intervened on their behalf so they would be granted a reprieve by the immigration department.

Their fines for overstaying were waived and they were issued exit documents. However, they were jailed for a few days before being deported.

They are expected to be reunited with their son and two daughters in Sri Lanka where they said they would provide more details about their captors to officials. GAD/Expat Media


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