Authorities of the Réunion Island of France repatriated 38 Sri Lankan nationals to Sri Lanka by air on the evening of 25th January 2023. Reportedly, the group of Sri Lankans was apprehended as they were attempting to migrate to the Réunion Island illegally via sea.

Departed from the Negombo fisheries harbor on 01st December 2022 with five crew members, a multiday fishing trawler, bearing No. IMUL-A-0532 CHW, boarded 64 illegal migrants from Baththalangunduwa, Puttalam on 13th and 14th December, transferred by means of 03 dinghies. Subsequently, the multiday fishing trawler has proceeded towards the Diego Garcia Island where they were apprehended and deported by the British Navy on 30th December. Thereupon, the human smugglers had cruised with the group of illegal immigrants to the French territory, Reunion Island where they were held by Authorities of the Réunion Island on 14th January. Upon being produced to the Réunion Court the group of illegal immigrants were repatriated to Sri Lanka on 25th January.

Among the apprehended persons were 33 males including three from the boat crew and two females who are over 18 years of age and two boys and one girl below 18 years. They have been identified as residents of Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mannar, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Trincomalee, Batticaloa Puttalam, Negombo and Gampaha. Meanwhile, the individuals have been handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department for onward legal proceedings.

It has been revealed that the smugglers in Kalpitiya and Kandy areas, who led this smuggling, charged an amount from Rs. 400,000 rupees to Rs. 1,000,000 from one person. Smugglers orchestrate this nature of unlawful acts with the intention of making a fast buck, by defrauding innocent people. Therefore, the Navy urges the public to avoid being victimized to such ploys and waste their hard-earned money.

Moreover, the French government does not entertain the illegal entry of people to the Réunion Island and such people will be immediately repatriated upon apprehension.