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No Rohingya in Sri Lanka, assures minister

The secretary for Sri Lanka's internal affairs ministry assured that there were no Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar in Sri Lanka, after a petition was launched to bar them from entering the island.

Sri Lanka's Controller General of Department of Immigration and Emigration Nihal Ranasinghe also told the Daily Mirror that visas would only be issued for Myanmar nationals and not for Rohingya refugees. 

Ministry of Internal Affairs, Wayamba Development and Cultural Affairs Secretary D Swaranapala said that Rohingya asylum seekers that had reached the island in 2008, 2013 and 2017 were all handed over to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

He reiterated that there were no Rohingya refugees on the island.

His statement comes after claims that the government rejected reports that it was planning to halt the issuing of visas to those travelling from Myanmar in a bid to stop Rohingya Muslims from entering the island. Initially, Sri Lankan Minister of Internal Affairs S. B. Navinna, said his government took the decision to stop Rohingya Muslims from seeking refuge in Sri Lanka. He warned that Rohingya may attempt to enter the island by posing as tourists.

His comments come after Sinhala Buddhist monks staged a rally in Colombo in support of Myanmar’s military offensive in the Rakhine state, which has displaced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims.