Sri Lanka offers free passports to refugees returning from Tamil Nadu

Jan 06, Colombo: Sri Lanka has taken measures to provide passports to the refugees returning to the country from Tamil Nadu without levying any fees.

Sri Lankan Cabinet has approved a proposal put forward by the President in his capacity as the Minister of Defence and Urban Development to authorize the Deputy High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in Chennai to issue passports to the returning refugees without levying a fee of Rs. 4,400.

The measure has been taken to encourage the resettlement of 90,000 Sri Lankan Tamils living in refugee camps and residencies in their own home villages in Sri Lanka’s North and East.

These refugees had fled to India and settled in Tamil Nadu to escape the war with the Tamil Tiger terrorists.

Under Sri Lanka’s Immigration and Emigration Act, the refugees are required to have a valid passport to land in Sri Lanka.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says since the conflict ended in May 2009, Sri Lankan refugees have been steadily returning back to their home country, mainly from India with a few from other countries.

According to Indian Government figures, some 69,000 Sri Lankan refugees were living in 112 camps in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

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