Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India Austin Fernando held talks with officials in Tamil Nadu to discuss the process of voluntary repatriation of Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka living in India.
Fernando, who in an interview to The Hindu newspaper has said that Colombo wants the Tamil refugees to return, was on a working visit to south India to participate in the Special Consular service programme at the Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission in Chennai from February 7-10.
The programme brought together a team from Sri Lanka representing the Registrar General’s Office and Department of Immigration and Emigration headed by Controller General, M.N. Ranasinghe and Additional Secretary (Bilateral Affairs), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sumith Nakandala, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The High Commissioner held a meeting with officials from Sri Lanka and from the Sri Lankan Mission in Chennai and discussed the need to examine complicated cases with regard to providing birth certificates and citizenship certificates to Sri Lankan refugees living in India. He also discussed the issues relating to the voluntary repatriation process of Sri Lankan refugees.
He met with functionaries working with refugees, the Consular Division of the Chennai Mission and officials from Sri Lanka. The High Commissioner also addressed a gathering of Sri Lankan refugees. He said that he understood their problems and that the Government of Sri Lanka is committed to resolving the issues they faced.
The three-day programme began with a visit to the Maha Bodhi in Chennai and a call on OfERR, a leading organization working with refugees, the Colombo Gazette reported.
Fernando also paid a courtesy call on Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, at the Raj Bhavan and other senior officials. He conveyed Sri Lanka’s interest in developing closer bilateral cooperation with regard to the voluntary repatriation of Sri Lankan nationals.