Sri Lanka –  Refugees urge speeding up of resettlement procedure

Refugees under the care of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHRC ) at Rosmead Place, Colombo 7, on 23rd of May, at noon staged a protest in front of the agency, demanding to speed up their resettlement procedures as the center is to be removed from the location.

Several Pakistani nationals held placards with various demands asking for solutions to the problem they were facing and launched a protest in front of the United Nations Refugee Agency to speed up the “process of settling in another country”.

These placards were written with their demands such as , “Please speed up the resettlement process.” ,  “Give decision faster, don’t send us back to die”, and “Refugees are human beings, not numbers. Give us resettlement.” , “By sending us back, you are violating our right to life.” , and “Do not divide Refugees as different communities. Everyone is equal and has the right to live with dignity and respect.”, “Refugees deserve better! Stop letting us die in vain.”  and ” UNHCR Stop making us wait for answers. We can’t wait.”

“UNHCR is not giving priority to our matter. how long can we wait? Already it is seven years we are waiting here in Sri Lanka. This is enough. we want justice.” told Mojo News one Refugee lady whose native country was Pakistan.

” We have small children and they don’t have a future. They have no schools here. Even I don’t know about my future. So we ask UNHCR to speed up our resettlement.” she said.

The little one spoke to the media while holding a placard saying that “Don’t spoil my life” and said that I want to go to a free country. I want to go to a new school. And I want my future and I want justice.,” she said.

Another Pakistani woman who are living here in Sri Lanka for 10 years, told still no resettlement for us. No specific country to go to and resettle. We can not do the work here. our children are living without education here. Now our fear is if the UNHCR office close soon, they will not support us and then what will happen to us?

Another person from Pakistan shared his pain and told Mojo News that his father who was with a long time expectation to resettle in another country died. His wife is suffering from diabetes and now his son, who is 14 years old, also suffers from high blood pressure and had to survive with medicine in the morning and evening.

” Please send us to a third-world country. Here we can not do jobs. Very difficult to buy groceries.  Food, medicine, and house rent are very high. we can not live here.” he said.

Speaking to the media, human rights activist Ruki Fernando said that normally when refugees from any country come to this country, they register at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

“One of the demands of these people is that the decision be given as soon as possible. Some people are waiting for years for the decision to be given. That means they do not know whether they will get asylum or not. Their other main demand is to give them the opportunity to go for permanent residence as soon as possible,” said Ruki Fernando.

Also, he said that, these refugees have been much frightened as the UNHCR has informed them that by next year they will curtail their support to them or they will completely shut down the place.

Human rights activist Ruki Fernando told Mojo News that there are approximately 800 refugees from Pakistan, Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Nigeria etc. as of today in Sri Lanka.

Most of them are living in Negombo and also in  Panadura, Dehiwela, and Mount Lavinia.


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