Written by News 1st
03 Aug, 2014 | 7:02 pm
Photo used for representational purposes
The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says Sri Lanka must stop deporting Pakistani asylum seekers, claiming it is a practice banned under international law.
Reuters news agency, quoting UNHCR, reports that Sri Lanka began arresting asylum seekers and refugees on June 9 and has since detained 214 Pakistanis and Afghans in two asylum centers.
However, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of External Affairs noted that the asylum seekers are being encouraged to return in the vital security interests of Sri Lanka and the region.
The UN Refugee Agency says that Sri Lanka deported 18 asylum seekers in the past two days, with another ten deportations expected Sunday.
UNHCR adds that the repatriations breached a ‘no forced return’ principle.
It said “This principle is binding on all states and precludes them from sending asylum seekers and refugees to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened”.
However, in a statement on it’s website, the Ministry of External Affairs said the influx of illegal migrants in the past year, had become a burden on state resources and potentially compromised state and regional security. The Ministry said the number of refugees or asylum seekers had risen by 700 percent in the 2013-2014 period and that by June 30 there were 1,562 asylum seekers and 308 refugees.
The Ministry attributed the increase in numbers to “people falling victim to commercially-driven human trafficking networks which abuse the liberal visa policy,” as well as a slowdown in the number of refugees resettled in other countries since 2012.
The Ministry also said the UNHCR had not helped Sri Lanka to speed up the process of dealing with refugees and asylum seekers, and had not provided financial help or housing.
The MEA adds that some applications for resettlement of refugees in third countries have been pending for five years.Furthermore, the Ministry of External Affairs notes that a state cannot be expected to carry a burden of this nature for an indefinite period of time.
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