73 illegal migrants nabbed over 2021 thus far

  • Majority leaving from Chilaw, Kalpitiya, heading to Canada

By Dinitha Rathnayake

A total of 73 persons have been captured by the Sri Lanka Navy due to attempting illegal migration during the course of this year.

Speaking to The Morning, Navy Media Spokesman Captain Indika De Silva said that most of them had attempted to leave the country illegally from the Chilaw and Kalpitiya sea areas.

“Most of them were trying to go to Canada,” he added.

Meanwhile, Captain De Silva also confirmed that the number of illegal migrants entering the shores of Sri Lanka has decreased.

The Navy has deployed more naval units to patrol the northern and north western waters of the island around the clock, following the possibility of illegal migrants entering the shores of Sri Lanka via sea routes, which could increase the transmission of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

Accordingly, steps have been taken to deploy more ships (offshore patrol vessels and fast gunboats) and fast attack crafts to raise surveillance in the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) as well as inshore patrol crafts to patrol the coastal waters of the island. The Eastern Naval Command has attached some of its ships and crafts to the Northern Naval Command, whereas the Western Naval Command has deployed additional ships and crafts to patrol the sea areas extending from Chilaw to Mannar, for these special operations.

Moreover, the Navy has increased foot patrols to add weight to the security in the coastal areas and has established coastal observation points in selected locations as well.

Similarly, the Navy has urged the fishing community in the respective areas to be vigilant regarding the possible arrival of illegal immigrants and to inform the relevant authorities, if any suspicious activity is observed in this regard. They have also been informed not to make contact with foreigners engaging in smuggling activities at sea.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) Deputy General Manager Mangala Randeniya urged the public not to attempt illegal migration. Speaking to The Morning, he said that all the facilities needed are provided for the ones who are going abroad including online education and documentation.

According to sources, around seven to eight illegal migration cases are reported daily in the country.