The seven Sri Lankans who were rescued in Ukraine recently are illegal immigrants and are refusing to return to Sri Lanka, a senior official of the Foreign Ministry has revealed.
The group of 6 men and 1 woman had been captured by Russians after they attempted to flee Kupiansk in Ukraine during the Russian invasion.
According to the Daily News, the Foreign Ministry official said that the seven Sri Lankans are not students, adding that they are all Tamil nationals and residents of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Uddappuwa, Vavuniya, and Mannar.
The official said it has been found that the group had illegally travelled to Ukraine with the assistance of a human trafficking agent.
“The agent had brought them into Ukraine in January and placed them to work in a factory until they leave for Europe. They are not students. This area where they were positioned is very close to the Russian border and the ongoing conflict. This agent has not given them any communication device. They have seen their passport only at the Sri Lankan airport. Then when the war started, they did not have any communication equipment to communicate with their families or the embassy. That is why they were stuck there,” the official said.
The Foreign Ministry official further said, “This was the reason for them to stay in the factory. The Russians sheltered them until March and after being found by the Ukrainian forces, the Sri Lankans were given shelter at a hostel in a conflict-free area. There are some investigations going on as to how they came into the country and what happened when they were with the Russians.”
Stating that the Sri Lankans are refusing to return to the country as they are illegal immigrants in Ukraine, the official said once the internal investigations are completed, the Ukrainian Government will facilitate their return to Sri Lanka.
He added that the Honorary Consulate General in Ukraine will be meeting the group today (20). (NewsWire)