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Religious tensions continue

2013 Dec 20

Special Task Force soldier blocks a Muslim men tries to run through them with wooden poles outside a vandalized mosque in Colombo    

The United States has noted that in Sri Lanka, religious tensions continue to be a problem, and Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist communities often distrust one another.

In a report submitted to the Congress on the estimated number of refugees the US will seek to assist next year, the US Government says incidents such as sporadic attacks against the Christian community and the destruction of a Muslim shrine by Buddhist monks in late 2011 exacerbate religious tensions in Sri Lanka.

The report says with the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka, approximately 6,000 refugees have returned. However it notes that the number of Tamils seeking to return from India has decreased.

So far in 2013, UNHCR assisted in the voluntary return of 245 Tamil refugees to Sri Lanka.

“Sri Lankan refugees in India do not receive work authorization from the central government but are unofficially allowed to work on the informal economy,” the report added.

This year, the report to Congress, said that the United States continued to support voluntary repatriation programs around the world. Refugee repatriation operations brought refugees home to Afghanistan, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Sri Lanka.

These operations were carried out to protect returning refugees as well as to help them contribute to the stabilization, reconstruction, and development of their home countries, the report added. (Colombo Gazette)

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