Ms. Shamla Yoosoof, an Investment Researcher from Colombo, left Sri Lanka with her three-year-old son and a jam-packed suitcase, swapping the economic mess at home for a new beginning in Dubai. She flew out to join her husband, who had confirmed and secured a job as a Sales and Marketing Director, one of tens of thousands of Sri Lankan professionals escaping the country’s worst economic crisis in seven decades. The article contains Sri Lankans Flee Crisis in Mass Brain Drain.
Although the exact number of migrants was elusive, preliminary data and business leaders suggested the scale of the brain drain was severe enough to delay any economic recovery. Mr. Yoosoof, for one, did not know when or if they would ever come back. “It took a long time to convince my husband to leave Sri Lanka as he was someone who believed in the country and wanted to stay,” said the 30-year-old. But by March, she said the crisis, which witnessed fuel shortages spiral into economic meltdown alongside political protests that ousted the president, had made daily life too challenging.
From Tunisia to Haiti to Pakistan, spiraling inflation drives millions into poverty in the world, sparking protests and mass unrest, with even rich countries feeling the squeeze. Since March 2022, Sri Lankans have faced severe fuel and cooking gas deficits due to fast-dwindling foreign currency reserves. As a result, medicine and food essentials such as milk powder ran short, and unrest swelled against the powers. For most of July, fuel was only available for essential services such as healthcare and farming.
As a result, food prices soared, with year-on-year food inflation at more than 90 percent in July 2022, and consumer price inflation at 60.8 percent, year on year. On top of the daily grind, migrants claimed that they had lost faith in government and feared rising nationalism would favor the feckless, hastening middle-class exodus. Therefore, the rush to a better life by many of the island’s most skilled professionals – medics, software engineers, and scientists creates a worrying skills gap for the 22 million left behind.
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