Lanka to issue free passports to Tamil refugees in India
The Sri Lankan government has taken steps to provide free passports to Lankan refugees living in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu to assist them repatriate with minimum costs.
President Rajapaksa who is also the Minister of Defence and Urban Development has authorised to waive the LKR4,400 fee to obtain a Sri Lankan passport for refugees in Tamil Nadu.
An initiative by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the move is aimed at encouraging the repatriation of a large number of Sri Lankan Tamils living in refugee camps in Tamil Nadu back to their homes in Sri Lanka.
According to the Indian government, some 69,000 Sri Lankan refugees were living in 112 camps in Tamil Nadu, while some refugees have also settled in their own homes. More than 90,000 Sri Lankan Tamils, predominantly from the North and East of the country, fled to Tamil Nadu during the country’s three-decade war with the the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE). Since the government’s victory over the LTTE in 2009 and the gradual demining of the former LTTE territory, Lanka has concentrated on a massive resettlement and development drive.
Under Sri Lanka’s Immigration and Emigration Act, the refugees are required to have a valid passport to land in Sri Lanka.