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Sri Lanka begins repatriation of Afghans

Updated July 21, 2014
- Photo by AFP
- Photo by AFP

COLOMBO: The government has started repatriating at state expense Afghan nationals who had claimed asylum in Sri Lanka, the Sunday Times said in a report on Sunday.

Quoting the Immigration Controller Mr Chulananda Perera, the newspaper said that five Afghans had been ‘voluntarily repatriated’ to their own country with more to follow.

The newspaper said that a spokesperson at the Colombo office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees said they were not aware of the repatriation of any arrested asylum seekers but were discussing the issue with government authorities.

The controller had stated that the repatriations of more Afghan and Pakistani families would take place in the coming weeks. Another immigration official said they had filed applications with the UNHCR, seeking asylum.

“Most of them are economic migrants, but when we explain to them that they are wasting their time and disrupting their children’s education, most of them agree to return to their countries,” the controller said.

The Immigration Department began its crackdown on Afghan and Pakistani asylum seekers last month and detained some of them on charges of being involved in illegal activities.

Published in Dawn, July 21th , 2014