Oct 03, Colombo: Minister of Ports and Shipping Mahinda Samarasinghe says a total of 1,333 asylum seekers and refugees are living in Sri Lanka under the protection of the United Nations High commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Addressing the media at a briefing today, the Minister said the group of 35 Myanmar refugees will be sent to a third country.
The Minister said according a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the UNHCR and the government of Sri Lanka, Myanmar refugees should be sent to a third country as soon as possible.
He also pointed out that Sri Lanka was not a party to 1951 refugee convention and because of that, the country could not take any responsibility on the refugees. However, countries are expected to the issue in a humane manner and Sri Lanka has taken steps to provide temporary facilities for the refugees since 2008.
The Minister said the refugees who came to Sri Lanka in 2008, 2012-14 have been sent to the United States and Canada for permanent residency arranged by the UNHRC.
Minister Samarasinghe said that the group of refugees arrived in the country recently had been residing in a camp in South India and their boat was capture by the Sri Lanka Navy after their boat was veered into the Sri Lankan waters. They were handed over to the UNHCR according to the usual procedure.