Canada returned over 500 Sri Lankans

asylum      Canada has returned over 500 Sri Lankans under a ‘Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration’ program, the Canadian media reported today.

The Montreal Gazette reported that Canada was the only funding source for this particular project which runs from Jan. 2012 to the end of this month.

It assists asylum seekers, who are unlikely to meet the refugee test, obtain travel documents and arrange flights home. The IOM covers all travel costs and provides about US$3,300 in reintegration assistance that can be used for vocational training or to start a business

The Montreal Gazette quoted the Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry as saying that  the project had returned more than 530 so-called irregular migrants to their country of origin as of Jan. 31, 2013. These include migrants who paid human smugglers thousands of dollars to get them to a place like Canada, Australia or Europe where they could seek asylum. They never made it to their final destination and were instead stranded in nine West African countries, spokeswoman Chrystiane Roy said.

Niurka Pineiro, a spokeswoman for the IOM, said the country of origin in all 500-plus cases was Sri Lanka. Of those who received assistance, 49 were women and 44 were children. The initial request for assistance, she said, was made in December 2011 after 209 Sri Lankan migrants found themselves stranded in Togo and the country did not know what to do with them.

It’s believed the group was abandoned and never got to board a migrant ship like the MV Ocean Lady that arrived in Canada with 76 Sri Lankan migrants in 2009 or the MV Sun Sea that did the same a year later with 492 Sri Lankan migrants aboard. The two incidents are what prompted the federal government to invest in efforts to intercept human smuggling operations before migrants get to Canada. Legislation passed last June also imposes tough new penalties on the smugglers and asylum seekers who pay them, should they actually make it to Canada.

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