More than 150 Sri Lankan refugees deported from Vietnam

More than 150 Sri Lankan refugees deported from Vietnam

More than 150 Sri Lankan refugees deported from Vietnam

Written by Zulfick Farzan

28 Dec, 2022 | 9:05 am

COLOMBO (News 1st) – A group of 151 Sri Lankan refugees who were rescued and detained in Vietnam were deported back to the country.

The duty Manager of the Bandaranaike International Airport said the group returned to Sri Lanka aboard a special flight on Tuesday (27) night.

The Department of Immigration and Emigration said that individual statements are being recorded from the group and they would be handed over to the Criminal Investigations Department  for further investigations.

303 Sri Lankans were rescued after their boat suffered a mechanical issue and was drifting in the high seas.

151 of them were deported from Vietnam after they agreed to return to Sri Lanka, said the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

The High Seas Rescue: 

MRCC Vietnam on November 7 received a mayday signal from MRCC Sri Lanka that LADY R3 fishing vessel got into trouble at sea and was in distress in the waters about 258 nautical miles off the southeastern part of the Vung Tau cape.

After receiving the news, MRCC Vietnam worked closely alongside international rescue agencies of both Singapore and Malaysia to verify the information and call international ships for help.

Discovering a Helios Leader ship of Japan was moving nearby, the center requested that the ship urgently change its direction and co-operate to rescue the people on board the LADY R3.

A Sri Lankan man had reportedly said that his group had traveled from Sri Lanka to Myanmar and from there they had boarded the LADY R3 boat to travel to Canada by sea.

It is unclear if all 303 Sri Lankans traveled together or in groups to Myanmar, and how they made it to Myanmar, as investigations are pending.

The 303 Sri Lankan citizens were rescued by the Helios Leader Vessel on the afternoon of November 8th, their ship had been stalled for nearly 40 hours, unable to maneuver and was drifting freely. 

On the afternoon of November 8th, when the SAR 413 vessel from the Vietnamese Coast Guard organized to welcome the 303 Sri Lankan citizens from the Helios Leader vessel to shore, initially four men got off the ship, the rest refused to get off despite the persuasion of the Honorary Consul of Sri Lanka, who took an entire hour to pursuade them to leave the Japanese freighter.

At this time, the authorities considered the option for these four people to return to the Helios Leader, but they refused and said that if they returned, they would be beaten. 

Thereafter, all 303 Sri Lankans were taken off the Helios Leader in batches and brought ashore.

For humanitarian reasons, the Ba Ria – Vung Tau Provincial Command for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control and Search and Rescue arranged for 303 Sri Lankans to stay at three spacious facilities.

With the support of Vietnam MRCC, , all of the Sri Lankans, including 264 men, 19 women, and 20 children, on board the vessel were brought to the Helios Leader. They were all in stable health condition.

The Japanese ship docked at a port in Vung Tau and handed over the rescued people to local border security forces of Vietnam.



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