By Camelia Nathaniel
Officials of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Sri Lanka said they have held ‘positive’ discussions with the External Affairs Ministry (MEA) over the deportation of more than 200 foreign refugee and asylum seekers currently in Sri Lanka.
UNHCR Colombo spokesperson Sulakshini Perera told Ceylon Today they were optimistic about a positive response over the discussions held last week and said that none of the refugees had so far been deported.
The two week deadline given to 88 refugees and 243 asylum-seekers registered with the UNHCR in Sri Lanka, to leave the country or face deportation, had already lapsed.
The deadline was issued by the Department of Immigration and Emigration which said the refugees and asylum seekers should leave as their visas had expired.
UNHCR had been informed of the plight of these refugees and asylum seekers, predominantly from Pakistan, who had reportedly been issued letters from the Department of Immigration and Emigration ordering them to leave the country within 14 days or face deportation, as their visa duration had lapsed.”
We have requested the authorities to withdraw the notice issued on these refugees and asylum seekers,” she added.
However, according to the UNHRC spokesperson, they have been lobbying for the order to be revoked in order to prevent the deportation of these refugees and asylum seekers.
She said last evening there was no further developments in the situation so far and that the UNHRC anticipates a favourable response to their request this week.