Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner for Southern India V. Krishnamoorthy says that the Citizenship Amendment Act of India will have no impact on the Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees. He told Ceylon Today that there are 3,815 Sri Lankan refugees in camps in India who have already indicated their interest and are actively preparing to return to Sri Lanka and awaiting the commencement of the ferry service in order to transport their accumulated household items along with them.
He further noted that so far 26,289 children born to Sri Lankan parents have registered their births in the Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission in Chennai and most of them obtained their Citizenship Certificates.
“Actually, there are no chances of making Sri Lankans as stateless people in India. Therefore, this Act is not applicable to the Sri Lankan context,” he stressed.
A total number of 94,866 Sri Lankan refugees are living in Tamil Nadu in camps and outside camps, he noted.
According to the statistics obtained by his office, there are 59,900 residing in the camps and 34,966 people living outside the camps.
He also pointed out that currently, Sri Lankan refugees are living in 107 camps across 24 Districts in Tamil Nadu. Originally, they had stayed in 114 camps that are now reduced to 107. Further, around 12,000 refugees returned to Sri Lanka since 2009 to 2019 voluntarily.
In addition, there are 13 Sri Lankans who made a writ petition requesting the Government of India to grant Indian citizenship in view of their Indian origin in accordance with the provisions in the Citizenship Act of India.
Their request proved futile as they could not fulfil the stipulated criteria of the Indian Government for they are considered as illegal migrants.
As India did not sign the Refugee Convention and as they consider them as illegal migrants the refugees will not be entitled to obtain citizenship under any grounds.
“This Mission did not face any challenges except the one where few members who are unable to obtain parents’ or grandparents’ birth certificate as they do not have the correct records or unable to produce any supportive documents to prove their case. However, the issuance of 26,289 birth certificates clearly demonstrate that Sri Lankan could obtain necessary documents as the Government of Sri Lanka maintains clear records. The Sri Lankan Government has waived off all fees and penalties for late registration and extend all possible assistance for the documentation process,” he added.