India working with Sri Lanka to repatriate thousands of Tamils

Updated 10 March 2015
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India working with Sri Lanka to repatriate thousands of Tamils

NEW DELHI: India said Monday it was working with Sri Lanka’s new government to repatriate thousands of ethnic minority Tamils who fled the island during nearly four decades of separatist war.
Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said discussions were ongoing for the return of 100,000 refugees from the southern state of Tamil Nadu, which is separated from Sri Lanka by a narrow stretch of sea.
“We had agreed when Sri Lanka’s foreign minister was here (India) in January to find ways by which these refugees could go back with honor, dignity (and) safety,” Jaishankar told reporters.
“We’ve already had one meeting on the bilateral side on January 30 to discuss the issue.”
The comments come as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares to visit Sri Lanka this week to strengthen ties with its new President Maithripala Sirisena.
Modi is expected to visit Sri Lanka’s former war zone and Tamil heartland of Jaffna during the three-day visit, starting on Friday.
Sri Lanka’s Tamils share close cultural ties with those in India’s Tamil Nadu state.
Some 65,000 refugees are living in 109 government-run camps in the state and another 37,000 are residing elsewhere in the state, Jaishankar said.ref
Sri Lanka’s new government has said it will focus on reconciliation after the decades-long war, which claimed an estimated 100,000 lives and exposed deep ethnic divisions.
Tamil Tiger rebels fought for outright independence for their minority community in Sri Lanka until they were crushed by the army in May 2009.
“We are discussing a lot of issues with Sri Lanka and the issue of reconciliation features significantly,” said Jaishankar.
“We want to encourage that process.”
Modi’s visit comes a month after Sri Lanka’s Sirisena traveled to New Delhi to rebuild ties hit by tensions over growing Chinese influence on the strategically located island.


Hundreds of migrants storm Spanish enclave in North Africa, one dies

Updated 21 October 2018
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Hundreds of migrants storm Spanish enclave in North Africa, one dies

  • About 200 migrants managed to scale the seven-meter high metal barrier and were taken to a reception center in Melilla
  • The man died of a suspected cardio-respiratory arrest despite being treated by emergency services

MADRID: One African migrant died and three others were injured when around 300 stormed the border fence separating Spanish enclave Melilla from Morocco on Sunday, the local authorities said.
About 200 migrants managed to scale the seven-meter high metal barrier and were taken to a reception center in Melilla where officials started the process of identifying them.
The man died of a suspected cardio-respiratory arrest despite being treated by emergency services, the Spanish government’s local delegation said in a statement.
More than 6,000 migrants have made it to Melilla and Spain’s nearby territory Ceuta so far this year, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR. In some places, the fences around the enclaves are topped with razor wire.
On Sunday, wooden-handled hooks and shoes fitted with spikes to help the climb were left behind, along with a bloodied t-shirt.
More than 40,000 have arrived by sea on Andalucia’s southern coast since January, making Spain Europe’s top destination for migrants which the European Union has failed to agree on how to handle.
The routes have changed as Italy clamped down on rescue ships to dock at its ports, and a deal between the EU and Turkey eased flows across the Aegean Sea to Greece.
The vast majority of arrivals in Spain are men, primarily from Guinea, Mali and Morocco, the UNHCR says.
On Saturday, Spain returned to Morocco 24 migrants who reached the Chafarinas islands, another Spanish territory off the North African coast, under a bilateral agreement signed in 1992, under which citizens of third countries who have entered illegally can be returned within a certain time frame.
This agreement was very rarely used until this summer, when 116 men who stormed the Ceuta fence were turned back. Spain’s Interior Ministry says it is being used now thanks to good bilateral relations.