India, Lanka Resume Dialogue on Repatriation of Refugees

ResettlementDespite the protests of the Tamil Nadu Government on repatriation of refugees, India and Sri Lanka held an official-level meeting on the issue on Friday. There was no representation from the State government and regional parties claimed that it was not the right time for their return.

The meeting held at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan was between Joint-Secretary (Sri Lanka-Maldives) Suchitra Durai and a senior official of the Sri Lankan High Commission in the national capital.

MEA had written to Tamil Nadu government to join the meeting, which is a resumption of the dialogue process after a substantial interval, following the visit of the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera. Official sources said the meeting held on Friday was only a preliminary one, and another one would be held soon.

A list of Sri Lankan Tamil refugee camps and inmates is believed to have been given to the Sri Lankan official. India has made it clear that all repatriation from India would have to be voluntary.  In the last few years, return of refugees had stopped, since it was directly linked to the situation in the north. As per United Nations High commission for refugees, 168 Sri Lankan Tamils have been assisted to return in 2014.

Over all, between 2012 and 2013, over 12,000 refugees have returned voluntarily. However, there is a question mark on the dialog process, with Tamil Nadu chief minister and politicians of various hues opposing the return of refugees on the ground that the situation in the war-torn northern Sri Lanka had still not improved despite the change at the helm in Colombo. (New Indian Express)

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