Consular access sought for detained SL immigrants in Turkey

Efforts are underway to provide consular access to any Sri Lankans verified to be among the 558 undocumented immigrants detained in Turkey last Friday (12), Foreign Ministry sources told RepublicNext today.

According to media reports, a total of 558 “irregular immigrants” were detained in the Edirne province of Turkey on 12 April attempting to cross the border to Europe. An unspecified number of Sri Lankans were reported to be in this group comprising mostly South and West Asian nationals.

Since civil war broke out in Syria, Turkey has effectively served as the primary route for refugees making their way to continental Europe.

According to Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry sources, it is uncertain how many Sri Lankans are in the detained group, if indeed there are any. The Sri Lanka embassy in Ankara are currently in touch with Turkish authorities including that country’s Ministry of Foregin Affairs to ascertain the identities of the suspected Sri Lankans.

Sri Lankan ministry sources said given the large number of detainees, the process of identification will likely take some time, after which consular assistance will be provided to them upon verification, as per standard procedure. The Ministry is currently awaiting a detailed report from Ankara.

“It’s hard to say at the moment, but Turkey will most probably deport them to Sri Lanka if they are found to be Sri Lankan, since that’s the standard procedure. We have also requested consular access for them,” the source said.

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