Colombo: The UN refugee agency today appealed for the resumption of ferry services between India and Sri Lanka saying it would help in the return of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees from India.
“We look forward to the resumption of the ferry service between India and Sri Lanka that would be of enormous support to those who wish to return,” said Golam Abbas, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) here. Yesterday, over 40 refugees left for Sri Lanka voluntarily from Chennai and Tiruchirappali under the aegis of the UNHCR. The total number of refugees whose return from India has been facilitated by the UNHCR this year so far has now risen to 147. They returnees said they had escaped Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict and had lived in camps in Tamil Nadu since as far back as 1990.
The India-Lanka ferry service between Tuticorin and Colombo was resumed in June 2011 after a lapse of nearly 30 years. However it was scrapped a year later as it did not prove to be a commercially viable operation. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Colombo
in March, the two countries had expressed strong willingness to resume the service as early as possible. Over 100,000 Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka live in Tamil Nadu. Out of those, about 65,000 live in 107 camps spread across the state.