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UN says 19 refugees will not be deported to Sri Lanka

19 refugees stranded in Dubai will not be deported back to Sri Lanka stated an official from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, amid fears that they face torture on their return.

The Times of India reported Babar Baloch, spokesperson for UNHCR in Geneva, as saying,

"UNHCR is looking for a solution to resettle the 19 refugees in other countries. We have full cooperation from the UAE government and there is no threat of the refugees being sent back to Sri Lanka".

"We have been working sincerely to settle them in other countries. Fifteen of the 39 recognized refugees left UAE and 12 are in the process of departing. Resettlement for others may take time. The UAE government has been supporting UNHCR in sheltering the refugees."

Several groups including Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Journalists for Democracy have expressed concern over their return and urged for the group not to be deported (See here and here).

One of the refugees is a former presenter for the National Television of Tamileelam (NTT), Rathimohan Lokini. Ramanan, another of the group stated,

"She (Lokini) is depressed. She knows what happened to Isaipriya, another TV presenter with the LTTE channel, who was brutally killed by the Sri Lankan Army".

He went on to add that another member of the group, Niranjani, was pregnant whilst they fled from Sri Lanka, and gave birth to a baby girl in Dubai on Christmas Day 2012. He said,

"She is likely to be sent to the US. Her baby Abinaya is also in need of better living conditions. We stay in a small place near the seashore. We were told that the six deported Tamils are facing problems in Sri Lanka. Though they have no issues with the government, they are facing trouble. If we are forced to go back to Sri Lanka, there is no assurance that our lives will be spared".

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