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UNHCR Condemns Lanka Sending Back Pakistani Asylum Seekers

Colombo

The UN refugee agency has condemned Sri Lanka's decision of sending back 88 Pakistani asylum seekers despite international calls to stop deporting them to a place where their lives could be in danger.

"Initially, those deportees had been men previously placed into detention, but now whole families were being deported," Adrian Edwards, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson has said.

"UNHCR is seriously concerned at these deportations, including of families and vulnerable people whose international protection needs have not been assessed," Edwards said.

The UNHCR said at least 88 Pakistanis have been sent home since August 1.

"By sending these people back, Sri Lanka is in breach of its obligations under international law concerning the principle of no-forced-returns, or non-refoulement," he added.

The UNHCR guidelines say members of the Pakistani religious minorities including the Ahmadiyya Muslim, Christian and Shia may be in need of international protection and require particularly careful examination of their asylum claims.

At least 157 asylum seekers, including 84 Pakistanis, 71 Afghans and 2 Iranians remained under Sri Lankan detention, according to UNHCR.

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PLACES: Sri Lanka
SECTION: International
OUTLOOK 13 August, 2014
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