Colombo: - In an interview with the TOLONEWS Bamdade Khush show on May 6, 2020, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari discussed the status of Afghan refugees in Sri Lanka amid the COVID-19 crisis. He pointed out that no Afghan refugee had so far tested positive, and that they were following closely the lockdown restrictions announced by the Government of Sri Lanka, which the social media pages and website of the Afghan Embassy in Colombo frequently update to keep all Sri Lanka-based Afghan citizens informed.
He noted that when and if an Afghan refugee showed symptoms of COVID-19, they could immediately contact one of the designated hospitals for COVID-19 testing and treatment at no cost. He encouraged all Afghan citizens to stay in touch with their Embassy, while noting that Afghan refugees are registered with the UNHCR in Colombo, which provides them with necessary legal and protection services and that no Afghan refugee had any major legal problem in Sri Lanka, unlike some other countries. On their financial situation, he noted that they were mostly assisted by the UNHCR, as well as receiving some support from their relatives in developed countries.
Ambassador Haidari estimated that there could be some 300 Afghan refugees in Sri Lanka, while about the same number have been resettled in third safe countries since the terrorist attacks of April 2019 in Sri Lanka. Given the prevailing insecurity in Afghanistan, Ambassador Haidari said he had worked with the former President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka to ensure that no Afghan refugee would be deported, following the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. This helped expedite their applications for resettlement in several friendly countries, which Ambassador Haidari thanked for their ongoing security and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan where an imposed terror campaign doesn’t allow the voluntary return of Afghan refugees.