Panel appointed to repatriate Lankan refugees from India

According to the records of India’s Home Ministry, as of 2021, 58,843 Sri Lankans have been residing in 108 refugee camps in Tamil Nadu. …reports Susitha Fernando

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Office on Monday appointed a committee to facilitate the repatriation of Sri Lankan refugees who fled to India specially during the 26-year-long ethnic conflict.

President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake appointed the committee to efficiently carry out the repatriation of minority Tamils from the war-ravaged northern Sri Lanka. The committee had been appointed on the request of the Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OFERR), to bring back the Sri Lankans who have gone to India as refugees due to the war.

“It was stated that about 58,000 Sri Lankans are currently residing in Tamil Nadu, India as refugees and only 3,800 of them are ready to return to Sri Lanka at present,” the President’s Office stated.

According to the records of India’s Home Ministry, as of 2021, 58,843 Sri Lankans have been residing in 108 refugee camps in Tamil Nadu. However there were around 34,000 Lankan refugees, registered with the state authorities, living outside the camps.

The Sri Lanka Deputy High Commissioner’s Office in Chennai is coordinating the move while representatives of Sri Lanka’s Department of Immigration and Emigration, the Justice Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and officials of the Registrar General’s Department are in the committee.

Since the civil war broke in early 1980s, Tamils, the largest ethnic minority in the island nation, accounting for about 12 per cent of the population have been fleeing to South India in search of protection and security.

Unable to bear the ongoing financial crisis in the island nation, a large number of Tamils from northern Sri Lanka also left for Tamil Nadu recently. With historical, cultural and religious links over the years, Tamil in Sri Lanka and India maintain close ties.

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