‘Sri Lanka wants Tamil refugees to return’, says Austin Fernando
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‘Sri Lanka wants Tamil refugees to return’, says Austin Fernando

By Thehindu   11-Feb-2019

‘Sri Lanka wants Tamil refugees to return’, says Austin Fernando

At 76, Austin Fernando, a veteran of the Sri Lankan bureaucracy, is perhaps the oldest to hold the post of High Commissioner to India. During his visit to Chennai to obtain first-hand knowledge of the situation pertaining to Tamil refugees, he said that “Sri Lanka needs them. We want them to return”. Excerpts:
We had a team of officials come here from Colombo, including Sumith Nakandala, Additional Secretary [Ministry of Foreign Affairs]. He brought officials from other departments, like the Controller General of Immigration and Emigration and representatives from the Registrar General’s office. They interviewed refugees, who have two important problems. One is about the ‘troubled document’, that is passport. The other is birth certificate. There are other issues like the exit permit, which have to do with the Indian government. But these are the two [problems that] the Sri Lankan government has to look into, and satisfy the needs of the people. We had got them [refugees] to come here [office of the Deputy High Commissioner] to meet our officials and tried to resolve their problems as much as possible.

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