Facing international flak for forcibly deporting Pakistani and Afghan nationals seeking refugee status in Sri Lanka, the government has established two more centres to detain foreigners who are overstaying.
The detention centres have been opened for those foreign nationals, who have registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), seeking refugee status, immigration officials said.
Two new facilities have been established after the present detention centre in Mirihana, Colombo was found inadequate of accommodating growing number of foreigners seeking refugee status in this island country, officials said.
One of the new detention centres is established in Boosa, Galle 116 km south of Colombo. The other has been established in Negambo, north of Colombo International Airport.
Around sixty Pakistani nationals are being detained at Boosa and a similar number of Afghan nationals are detained at the Negambo detention centre.
Earlier this month, UNHCR accused Lanka of violating international law and expressed dismay over Colombo’s arrest and deportation of dozens of foreign asylum seekers by force, without allowing the United Nations to assess their asylum claims.
On August 16, a Lankan court of appeal has also ordered a halt to the deportation of Afghan and Pakistani refugees before their asylum claims are fully assessed.
At present about 1,500 foreigners, mostly Ahmadis and other religious minorities from Pakistan and Afghanistan, are seeking refugee status in Sri Lanka through the UNHCR.