A boat carrying 46 Sri Lankan migrants is due to arrive on the island overnight from Friday to Saturday.
On Tuesday September 13, the Mauritian authorities were the first to see the ship sailing in the middle of the Indian Ocean. In order to have more details of the passengers on board, Mauritian police officers intercepted the ship and then identified 46 Sri Lankan migrants, including 6 women and 2 children. The local police later explained that they were seeking asylum in Reunion so that the Port-Louis authorities would allow them to continue on their way.
The prefecture of Reunion announced that all measures will be taken to welcome these migrants before their asylum application is processed. the plan”Search and rescue“(SAR) was launched by the prefect of “find and rescue passengers in distress“, in view of the risks run by these migrants, making a crossing of more than 4000 kilometers in a boat of only 12 meters for more than twenty days.
Champlain, a building of the French Navy, received on Friday September 16 the task of accompanying the ship until it landed in a Reunionese port. “The objective of the French authorities at this stage is to secure the people“The prefecture explained, that it is necessary to redirect these asylum seekers to the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) and emergency accommodation.
For this French overseas department of more than 850,000 inhabitants, this type of arrival began in 2018. Within four years, eight ships in Sri Lanka, which brought a total of more than 300 Sri Lankan asylum seekers have landed at the ports of Reunion. A first migratory movement took place between March 2018 and February 2019, with the arrival of six migrant boats, prompting the Quai d’Orsay and the Ministry of the Interior to put pressure on the Sri Lankan authorities. Lankan that they dismantled the networks of smugglers who organized these extremely dangerous journeys.
The Covid-19 crisis then caused a complete halt to these arrivals in 2020 and 2021, but the momentum continues as evidenced by the arrival of two boats in Sri Lanka in April and July 2022, withvs respectively 126 and 6 migrants on board.
The social and economic crisis that has shaken Sri Lanka since March 2022 and which prompted Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign on July 12, 2022 is one of the factors that have revived this dynamic. But the religious persecution suffered by the Hindu, Muslim and Christian minorities in a predominantly Buddhist country (70% of the population) could also explain the increase in Sri Lankan arrivals in Reunion. The last six asylum seekers who arrived on July 31, 2022, thus invoked the grounds of political and religious persecution to obtain their refugee status.
Currently, these departures from Sri Lanka to Reunion are not large and it should be noted that during the first migratory wave of 2018-2019, around 150 migrants were sent back by plane to Sri Lanka after rejection in their asylum application. But the current dynamic may continue if social and political tensions persist in the former island of Ceylon. Mayotte, another French department in the Indian Ocean, which is already facing massive immigration from the Comoros, also saw a boatload of Sri Lankan asylum seekers arrive on its shores on August 3. They were expelled four days later.
Finally, these recent Sri Lankan migrations to Reunion resonate particularly in the island’s history. Indeed, after the emancipation of African slaves in December 1848, landowners turned to Asia to recruit workers to “engagedintended to work on pipe pipes. The “engagedmostly from China and India. They have a different legal status than former slaves, but they are in a situation of semi-freedom. This system was completely abolished in 1939, seven years before the department of the island in 1946.