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Displaced Muslims still searching for safe homes in Sri Lanka

Displaced Muslims who were forced from their homes in the wake of anti-Muslim violence in Sri Lanka following the Easter Sunday attacks, are still to be resettled more than three months after the bombs, reports The New Humanitarian.

Some 228 people are still searching for safe shelter according to the UN’s refugee agency, which has been attempting to relocate the displaced.

“Every effort that was made to relocate people was received with a lot of hostility,” said Menique, the head of UNHCR’s Sri Lanka office.

Approximately 90 people are living in a “government-run facility in Vavuniya… where they are under armed military guard,” said The New Humanitarian.

Ruki Fernando, a human rights activist, called the facility “a de facto prison”. “We’ve never had this situation in our history that refugees have been so scared they’ve had to live in camps guarded by armed forces,” he added.

The initial move to send the refugees from the Sinhala south to Vavuniya in the Tamil north was met with opposition from locals, said Amarasinghe. Senior government officials also reportedly objected to moving a family to Jaffna.

See more from The New Humanitarian here.

In the wake of the Easter Sunday bombings, there has been a spate of sustained racist attacks and harassment of Muslims on the island.

Tamil civil society groups called for “empathy and solidarity” with Muslim groups who face persecution and asked for “the Tamil community as a whole to extend a hand and open our homes and hearts”.