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Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission in Chennai Distributes “All Country Passports” to Resettled Sri Lankans in Tamil Nadu

The Deputy High Commission of Sri Lanka in Chennai recently organized an event to distribute the first batch of “All Country Passports” to Sri Lankan nationals resettled in Tamil Nadu. Historically, the Government of Sri Lanka had issued a travel document known as the ‘Refugee Repatriation Passport’ for this group, exclusively for returning to Sri Lanka due to their irregular stay in India.

In response to numerous requests from these Sri Lankans seeking broader travel opportunities, the Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission in Chennai proposed issuing an “All Country Passport.” This new document enables recipients to travel to other countries for purposes such as higher education, employment, and family reunification.

Under the guidance of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, a committee was formed, headed by the Secretary to the Prime Minister and involving key stakeholders like the Department of Immigration and Emigration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Public Security, and Ministry of Justice, to implement this project.

Over 3500 applicants have expressed interest, with 900 already applying for passports under this initiative. Notably, for the first time, the Government of Sri Lanka is considering issuing passports to children born in India to Sri Lankan parents, provided they meet the necessary requirements.

At the event, Minister of Minorities Welfare and Non-Resident Tamils Welfare of the Government of Tamil Nadu, Gingee K.S Masthan, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India, Kshenuka Senewiratne, and Governor of the Eastern Province, Senthil Thondaman, emphasized the significance of this historic milestone. Senior Advisor to the President, Sagala Ratnayake, addressed the audience virtually.

Sri Lankans from Thoppukollai and Keezhputhupattu rehabilitation camps, Vairamuthu Baskaran, and Sugumaran Thaneswary, who received passports, shared their thoughts about this initiative. Officials from the central government of India, the state government of Tamil Nadu, and related Sri Lankan government institutions also attended the event.

In his speech, Deputy High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Southern India, Dr. D. Venkateshwaran, expressed gratitude to all stakeholders who contributed to the success of this initiative. Currently, around 92,000 Sri Lankans in India are accommodated in Tamil Nadu, with approximately 58,500 in 106 rehabilitation camps and about 33,500 residing outside camps under Tamil Nadu police registration.

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