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Influx of refugees unfortunate: envoy

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Sumit Nakandala
Sumit Nakandala

Special Correspondent

"It comes at a time when consular facilitation for repatriation is on"

CHENNAI: It is unfortunate that there is an influx of refugees from Sri Lanka to Tamil Nadu at a time when efforts to repatriate or facilitate their return are being made by the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission in Chennai, its chief diplomat, Sumit Nakandala, said.

"I don't think anybody should fear that war would break out again in Sri Lanka," Mr. Nakandala said, responding to media persons' questions on the recent influx of refugees.

Consular facilitation for repatriation and return of the refugees from Sri Lanka was in full swing, with travel documents, birth certificates and citizenship certificates for children born in India being distributed. In last three years, since the ceasefire agreement of 2002, 4500 refugees had gone back to Sri Lanka, mainly with the help from the UNHCR.

However, since January 12, over 200 refugees had landed in Tamil Nadu. Mr.Nakandala conveyed the gratitude of the Sri Lankan Government to Tamil Nadu, which, though overburdened with refugees, continued to provide good facilities for shelter and education.

There were 2000 graduates among the 55,000 refugees living in 100 camps in the State.

Reiterating President Mahinda Rajapakse's commitment to go ahead with the peace talks, he said the Government was very flexible and would respond to the talks with utmost sincerity. In the ensuing talks, scheduled probably for February 2, the focus would be on finding a long-term, permanent solution to the problem, based on maximum devolution of power. The President had also emphasised consistently that his decisions were based on achieving permanent peace.

On the role the country expected India to play in resolving the crisis, Mr. Nakandala said the Indian Government had been helping them since 1983 to find non-violent solutions. While India had indicated, more than once, that the solution should be indigenous, Sri Lanka "needs the goodwill and blessings of India."

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