CHENNAI: About 19 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees who feared deportation after they being stranded in Dubai can breathe easy with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday refuting reports that they would be sent back home.

“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,” said Babar Baloch, spokesperson for UNHCR in Geneva. There were reports earlier that the refugees who reached Dubai illegally would be deported on April 11.

Last October, 45 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees set out in a boat from Tuticorin and were stranded in mid-sea. They were picked up by a Singapore-registered cargo ship and taken to Dubai where they sought asylum through the International Red Cross. They were dropped off in Dubai and entrusted to UNHCR. UNHCR denied refugee status to seven and six were deported to Sri Lanka.




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