Tamil Nadu

SL starts work on voluntary repatriation

D. Venkateshwara  

The Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission has commenced work on voluntary repatriation of Sri Lankan nationals living in the rehabilitation camps of Tamil Nadu, according to Deputy High Commissioner D. Venkateshwaran.

The diplomat, who assumed charge in April this year, told The Hindu on Friday that the Deputy High Commission, together with the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Departments concerned of Tamil Nadu, including the Commissionerate of Rehabilitation and Welfare of Non Resident Tamils, and non-governmental organisations, was also working on the collection of preliminary data for repatriation. The Deputy High Commission had proposed a “suitable” ferry service or passenger air service, accommodating the cargo in containers, for repatriation.

According to the Tamil Nadu government’s document, 58,822 persons were staying in 108 rehabilitation camps as on July 31. Besides, 34,087 refugees were living outside the camps.

The Deputy High Commissioner said that before the outbreak of COVID-19, his office had issued 1,500- 2,000 special refugee repatriation passports every year. Roughly, 1,000-1,500 Sri Lankans had returned annually to Sri Lanka voluntarily with the assistance of UNHCR or on their own. The process of voluntary repatriation was suspended in March 2020 owing to international travel restrictions.

As for the issuance of consular birth certificates, Mr. Venkateshwaran recalled that special camps were held every week till March 2020. The registration of consular births had “declined drastically” owing to the pandemic. “However, this Mission is constantly providing its uninterrupted consular services” amid the lockdown, he said, hoping for the resumption of the special camps shortly. The Deputy High Commission planned to clear all pending applications for consular birth certificates before December.

As for deepening the cultural ties. he said Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Tourism would soon release the details of the development of the Ramayana trail and the Murugan trail, in addition to the Panchalinga Shiva temple trail, covering five locations. It had been proposed to facilitate the arrival of more tourists from Sri Lanka to places of religious importance. The Mission planned to organise cultural events in south India for the promotion of cultural relations.

Expressing Sri Lanka’s gratitude to the Indian government for various assistance rendered during the pandemic, he said he had met the heads of several south Indian States to “enhance the bilateral relationship”.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 3:52:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/sl-starts-work-on-voluntary-repatriation/article36660514.ece

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