Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena speaks to his supporters at his political party, Sri Lanka Freedom Party's (SLFP) annual convention at Colombo, Sri Lanka. 4-12- 2018 (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena on Tuesday (7) appealed to the Colombo-based top foreign diplomats for their assistance to repatriate 1,600 refugees, mostly Pakistanis and Afghans, currently accommodated in the island nation.

“I want your help to send them back. We can no longer care for them. Some of them have got involved in illegal activities too,” Sirisena said while addressing the foreign envoys.

 In the aftermath of the deadly Easter suicide attacks, refugees and asylum seekers were displaced after landlords came under local pressure to evict them.

Hundreds of refugees have taken shelter in mosques and a police station in Negombo, the western coastal town where one of the church bombings took place, after facing intimidation following the blasts.

At least on four occasions since the attacks, dozens of frightened migrants, including many children, older people, and others with special needs, travelling to safer areas had to return to the overcrowded Negombo police station.

Sirisena’s remarks came as the New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch said that Sri Lankan authorities not only have a responsibility to apprehend those responsible for the heinous Easter Sunday attacks, but also to protect all those now at heightened fears.

Most of the refugees are primarily Pakistani and Afghan migrants who are Muslim. There are Pakistani Christians. Many, like the Ahmadis, fled to Sri Lanka due to persecution they faced in their own countries.

PTI