LTTE urges UNHCR over refugees in India

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 25 May 2005, 20:31 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers Wednesday urged the UN's Refugee Agency to take steps to ensure the safe passage of Tamil refugees in India seeking repatriation to their homes in Sri Lanka. The matter was discussed when the Head of the LTTE Political Wing, Mr.S.P.Thamilchelvan, met with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Sri Lanka, Mr. Rajiv Kapur, in Kilinochchi on Wednesday.

"[UNHRC] has an obligation by virtue of its mandate relating to the resettlement of refugees, to interact with the government of India and arrange safe repatriation of the Tamil refugees, many of whom have met with death recently while venturing to cross the sea" Peace Secreterait sources quoted Mr. Thamilchelvan as telling Mr. Kapur.

Mr. Kapur had replied that, following an earlier letter from Mr. Thamilchelvan, he (Mr. Kapur) had already taken action on the matter and was in touch with UNHRC officials in New Delhi on the matter.

Lacking money and logistical and organisational support, many Tamil refugees in southern India are unable to return home. Many are turning to people smugglers who charge extortionate rates, but routinely abandon their passangers on sandbanks in the Palk Strait, or cast them adrift.

Stranded refugees have been attacked by pirates and Sri Lanka Navy personnel, with a number of murders and rapes reported by survivors.

In discussions with the UNHCR country representative, who was accompagnied by UNHCR officials from Jaffna, Vavuniya and Kilinochchi districts, Mr. Thamilchelvan hailed the UNHCR’s work during difficult times, LTTE Peace Secretariat sources said.

He however urged the UNHCR to take steps toward resettling internationally displaced Tamils who are unable to return to their homes which are presently occupied by Sri Lankan military personnel.

Mr. Thamilchelvan had pointed out that many such displaced people, particularly people from fishing communities in Jaffna were living in Mullaitivu, and had died in the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 26, 2004.

Meanwhile, expressing concern over the tense situation in Trincomalee, Mr.Kapur said that disturbances of this nature tend to disrupt the atmosphere of peace and it has become difficult for UNHCR to move freely to carry out its work in Trincomalee.

"Political stability and a state of calm are absolutely essential to achieve progress in the peace process and the parties concerned should endeavour to exercise maximum restraint and build on the momentum of peace," Mr. Kapur said.

UNHCR Country Head meets Thamilchelvan
UNHCR Country Head Mr.Mr.Rajiv Kapur meets Mr.S.P.Thamilchelvan, the Head of the LTTE's Political Wing, 25 May 2005


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