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International human rights groups urge Sri Lanka to protect asylum seekers

In a joint appeal, the organizations raised concerns over the safety of the refugees and asylum seekers saying they have been unfairly targeted and displaced after the attacks, with landlords under local pressure to evict them from their homes.

It said about 1,200 people from Pakistan and Afghanistan have fled their homes due to the fear, threats and intimidation they experienced in their neighborhoods. 

The appeal signed by several organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch also urged the authorities to urgently relocate the refugees sheltering in a police station and places of worship to appropriate locations with adequate sanitation, sleeping space, and security.

The appeal came as hundreds of refugees have taken shelter in mosques and other areas in Negombo, where a church was the target of attack on Easter Sunday. 

President Maithripala Sirisena raised the foreign refugee issue in a meeting with foreign envoys and mentioned difficulties in looking after them under present circumstances.   

The refugees and asylum seekers include members from the Ahmadi and Christian communities from Pakistan, Shi’a Hazaras from Afghanistan and refugees from Iran who fled religious ethnic and political persecution in their countries. 

At least 258 people including 45 foreigners were killed in the attacks on churches and hotels which was carried out by local groups with the support of Islamic state.  

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