Mannar GA says refugee influx unprecedented

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 28 July 2004, 15:53 GMT]
''Hundreds of refugees are risking their lives, paying high fares to unscrupulous boatmen, to return from India to their homes in the northeast. The influx of refugees is increasing by the day. It is hence imperative that MPs of the Vanni District should persuade the governments of India and Sri Lanka to let these refugees return legally by ferry or by boats from Mannar,'' said the Government Agent for Mannar Wednesday.

Speaking at the monthly advisory meeting on the De-centralised Budget allocation for the Vanni District at the Vavuniya District Secretariat Wednesday, the Mannar GA, Mr. V. Wisvaingam, said the refugees undertake hazardous journeys at the mercy of the refugee smugglers who sometimes abandon the returnees on dangerous sandbanks at mid sea.

''Many refugees tell me that they had to pawn their valuables to pay the illegal boatmen,'' he told TamilNet.

''Thousand two hundred and eighty five refugee families returned from India in five years from 1999 to 2003. But in the first six months of 2004 thousand five hundred families returned from from refugee camps in India to their homes in the northeast through Mannar,'' he said.

Only ten families returned in the year 2000 when fighting was intense between Colombo and the Liberation Tigers, Mr. Wisvalingam said.

 

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