UN refugee agency commends progress of Sri Lanka

Last Updated: Friday, June 20, 2014 - 20:49

Colombo: UN`s top refugee agency today commended the progress made by Sri Lanka in reintegrating over five lakh internally displaced persons since the end of the civil conflict with the LTTE in 2009.

The Sri Lankan government has made great strides in reintegrating 573,651 returning internally displaced persons (IDP) since the end of civil conflict in 2009, according to a statement issued by the UN refugee agency, United High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

UNHCR is assisting the Sri Lankan government in finding durable solutions for the remaining displaced people.

"Likewise, Sri Lanka has very effectively dealt with the issue of statelessness on its territory by passing legislation enabling Tamils of Indian-origin, who had been previously disenfranchised, and a population of ethnic Chinese, who had been in the country since the 1940s, to access citizenship," it said.

"Sri Lanka is often cited as the best practice in the region in resolving issues of statelessness," the statement said.

UNHCR has helped over 11,400 Sri Lankan refugees who have returned voluntarily to restart their lives since the end of the conflict.

"Though numbers remain low in comparison to other host countries in the region, Sri Lanka currently hosts 291 refugees and 1547 asylum seekers, all of whom are registered with UNHCR," it said.

The UN estimates that up to 100,000 people died during the conflict between 1972 and 2009 in Sri Lanka. Human rights campaigners claim 40,000 civilians were killed in the final military offensive in 2009 that crushed Tamil rebels.

The statement was released today by the UNHCR on the occasion of the World Refugee Day.

"World Refugee Day is a time for us to reflect on the lives of the refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people worldwide who go through immense suffering due to violence and persecution," said UNHCR`s representative M Golam Abbas.

"UNHCR appreciates the generosity of the Sri Lankan government in accommodating asylum seekers and refugees until durable solutions are found for them," Abbas said.

"The World Refugee Day, 2014 also presents an opportunity for the government to reiterate its greater effort to protect refugees and asylum seekers," he added.

The Global Trends report 2014 shows that the number of refugees and IDPs under UNHCR care has doubled in a decade ? from 15 million in 2004 to 35.6 million today.

PTI

First Published: Friday, June 20, 2014 - 20:49

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