(UDHAYAM, COLOMBO) – As part of broader measures to prevent human smuggling on the high seas, Australia is working with India and Sri Lanka to rehabilitate refuges interested in going back to the island nation, Australian Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg said, The Hindu reported.
“There are about 100,000 Sri Lankan people who fled to Tamil Nadu in the past…There are a certain number of them who want to go back. We have an obligation to assist India and Sri Lanka in that resettlement,” he said in an interaction with a select group of journalists.
He said that his force has been actively working with the Indian Coast Guard in countering smuggling operations to prevent the Sri Lankan Diaspora in Tamil Nadu from reaching Australia.
The resettlement is of interest to Australia in the broader efforts to prevent human smuggling and it has committed $ 1-2 million for the resettlement over the next two years. “We want to ensure that the money goes to the practical outcomes of resettlement and rehabilitation and sustains them once they return to Sri Lanka,” he stated. On the timelines for rolling out the program, he said the issue of resettlement was under discussion for the last six months and could begin implementation “probably in the next few months.”