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Over agitation near refugee shelter: UNHCR alarmed and concerned

 The UN Refugee Agency in Colombo yesterday, issuing a special press statement over the agitation that occurred near the refugee shelter in Mount Lavinia that housed 31 Rohingya refugees, said it is “alarmed and concerned by the incident.”

“On Tuesday, a group of people protested outside the shelter housing 31 refugees – most of them women and children – who had been rescued by the Sri Lankan Navy from a boat in Sri Lankan waters in April this year.

The refugees were eventually evacuated to safety by the authorities to whom the UNHCR is grateful for the support and protection extended to the refugees,” it stated.

“UNHCR is equally concerned for the safety and security of our partner’s staff present during the incident who were providing humanitarian assistance to the refugees. UNHCR emphasizes that the refugees are victims of violence and persecution who need international protection and assistance,” it added.

“UNHCR urges the public and all those concerned with refugees to continue extending protection and to show empathy for civilians fleeing persecution and violence. In Sri Lanka, the presence of refugees and asylum-seekers is authorized by the Government. In consultation with the authorities, the UNHCR provides assistance to refugees until longer-term solutions could be found,” the communique further stated, the release stated.