Sri Lankan delegation holds talks in Tamil Nadu on refugee issue

The program brought together a team from Sri Lanka representing the Registrar General’s Office and Department of Immigration and Emigration headed by Controller General, M.N. Ranasinghe and Additional Secretary (Bilateral Affairs), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sumith Nakandala. The High Commissioner held a meeting with the officials from Sri Lanka and from the Sri Lankan Mission in Chennai and discussed the need to examine complicated cases with regard to providing birth certificates and citizenship certificates to Sri Lankan refugees on Indian soil. He also discussed the issues pertaining to the voluntary repatriation process of the Sri Lankan refugees. He met with functionaries working with refugees, the Consular Division of the Chennai Mission and officials from Sri Lanka. The High Commissioner addressed the gathering of Sri Lankan refugees, stating that he understood their problems and that the Government of Sri Lanka is committed in bringing a solution to the issues they faced.The three day program began with a visit to the Maha Bodhi in Chennai and a call on OfERR, a leading organization working with refugees.   A Sri Lankan delegation had talks with officials in Tamil Nadu on the refugee issue.Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India Austin Fernando was on a working visit to Southern India to participate in the Special Consular service program at the Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission in Chennai from 07-10 February 2019, the Foreign Ministry said today. High Commissioner Austin Fernando also paid courtesy calls on Banwarilal Purohit, Governor of Tamil Nadu at Raj Bhavan Chennai and Dr. (TMT) Girija Vaidhyanathan IAS, Chief Secretary to the Government of Tamil Nadu at Tamil Nadu Secretariat on 09th February 2019 and held cordial discussions.  He conveyed Sri Lanka’s interest in developing closer bilateral cooperation in regard to the voluntary repatriation of Sri Lankan nationals.A debriefing session was held on 10th February 2019 where the Controller General, Mr. M.N. Ranasinghe and Sumith Nakandala explained the preparation for the return of refugees and follow up action.For the courtesy calls, the High Commissioner was accompanied by Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner to Southern India, V. Krishnamoorthy, Additional Secretary Sumith Nakandala, Controller General M.N. Ranasinghe and Ms. Achini Perera, Counsellor of Sri Lanka High Commission, Delhi. (Colombo Gazette) read more

New UNICEF atlas charts development disparities affecting Chinas children

In a press release marking the publication of Children in China: An Atlas of Social Indicators 2014, UNICEF warned that despite China’s “spectacular” economic development, “striking geographical disparities” continue to pose challenges to the survival, development and protection of millions of rural children across the country. “China’s tremendous progress for children and women has been an important contribution globally to reducing poverty, child mortality and meeting international development goals,” said Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF’s Representative to China.“Yet experience has taught us that we must look beyond national averages to see where disparity still exists so by disaggregating data, we can identify who the children are that are being left behind.” According to the UN agency, China boasted “remarkable” achievements in poverty alleviation, ensuring universal access to primary education, promoting gender equality and reducing child mortality for its estimated 274 million children in 2013. In addition, the country’s national under-five mortality rate declined at an average annual rate of 7 per cent – from 61 per thousand live births in 1991 to 12 per thousand live births in 2013. Nonetheless, UNICEF added, the latest figures provided by the Atlas reveal deep divergences between rural and urban areas and among eastern, central and western regions further indicating that “some children are missing out on access to health, education and protection services.” In 2013, for instance, the under-five mortality rate was 1.4 times higher in rural areas than urban ones while infant mortality was 1.2 times higher. Moreover, in poor and western regions, children are more likely to be undernourished and have less access to pre-primary education and improved sanitary facilities.Internal migration also widely affects children as many are subjected to hardships and discrimination, according to the Atlas. As children move from rural areas to China’s cities, many remain unable to attend public schools. Others have to enrol in low-quality private schools and are confronted with high fees. “In-country disparities mean that development outcomes for children and women in the poor rural areas of China are similar to those in low-income countries,” Ms. Mellsop continued. “In cities, migration and rapid urbanization present additional challenges related to urban poverty and vulnerability.”Ms. Mellsop applauded the Chinese Government’s efforts to address the inequalities and to ensure that the benefits of the country’s rapid economic growth and development reach the most vulnerable children. At the same time, she cautioned, “the sheer scale and complexity of the challenge means that progress is gradual.”“UNICEF looks forward to continued collaboration with the Government to reach children everywhere and make sure they have their fundamental rights met.” read more