More than 250 returnees will benefit from the magnanimous effort of three major ministries with their allied departments in receiving citizenship certificates on the 12th and 13thAugust in Mannar district.
Since many of the returnees have been refugees in India and other countries for more than 25 years, children born in foreign countries do not have a Sri Lankan birth certificate which hinders the citizenship process. For those who try to apply for documents they need to go to Colombo to different offices which make it difficult. This effort by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which is working hard in bridging matters, have initiated this easy, one stop process to get citizenship certificate. This is the third time that an effort in this regard has been taken. The previous was held in Killinochi on the 1st and 2nd July 2018. This program is being attended by Honourable Minister Tilak Marapana, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Development Assignments whose presence will encourage the civil servants and beneficiaries alike.
The honourable Prime Minister of Sri Lanka during the recent parliamentary session on 9th August 2018, made an earnest plea, inviting refugees to return to Sri Lanka. His speech was prompted by a list given by the Foreign Secretary of India to the Government of Sri Lanka with a commitment to provide sea way transportation and requesting the Government of Sri Lanka to be prepared. The list of 3815 refugees who were interested in returning to Sri Lanka was prepared by OfERR in India and handed over to the Government of Sri Lanka.
Refugees from India have been returning in small numbers but many of them have been struggling with the process leading to citizenship since they do not have the relevant documents. In show of reconciliation to the returning Tamils, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Consular Division), Department of Registrar General, Department of Immigration and Emigration and the Ministry of Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Hindu Religious Affairs along with the District and Divisional Administration and OfERR Ceylon have joined hands to facilitate documentation process to receive citizenship.
OfERR Ceylon an NGO working in Sri Lanka since 2004 is facilitating this process with the support of Act for Peace. Its parent body, OfERR works in India preparing refugees for return. Being on both sides, OfERR is able to prepare refugees with relevant documents in India and upon return assist in getting citizenship documents so that returnees may start a peaceful life here in Sri Lanka. Apart from documentation, OfERR Ceylon assists with other essential services including housing and livelihood.