Days after multiple blasts rocked Sri Lanka and killed 253 people, hundreds of Pakistani refugees belonging to the Ahmaddiya community of Muslims are fleeing Negombo port town. After ISIS claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings, communal tensions have flared up in different parts of the country with Muslims facing the backlash.
In Negombo, the Pakistani refugees are now holed up in various community centres, mosques and police stations. Hundreds of Pakistani refugees have already left the country and the remaining have been asked by their landlords to leave the town immediately.
The local police and the mosque committees have now come to the help of these Muslims by providing them makeshift shelter, food and arrangements for their safe exit from the country.
Nearly 800 such refugees were rehabilitated by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Negombo, but are now being asked to get out of their homes by Sinhalese, Christian and even Muslim landlords.
On Wednesday, during the mass funeral of at least 100 blast victims who were killed at the St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, a mob armed with iron bars broke down the doors and windows of the houses of these Pakistani refugees after which at least 100 boarded the buses and left the city.
The local Muslims and the district administration have come to the rescue of these refugees but they are awaiting confirmation from UNHRC on where to settle them permanently. Sr Lanka is a transit for the Ahmadiyya Muslims from Pakistan who usually go on to settle in Australia or New Zealand.
"Because of the bomb blasts and explosions that have taken place here, the local Sri Lankan people have attacked our houses," Adnan Ali, a Pakistani Muslim, told Reuters adding that they are clueless right now on where to go.
The refugees said that the landlords didn't even give them a notice period and asked them to leave immediately.
Although Sri Lankan police are vouching for the safety of the Muslim community in the country, the fear of violent attacks is prevalent as the island nation is still mourning the loss of lives. Despite a peaceful co-existence among the various religious ethnicities for decades, Sri Lanka remains prone to communal clashes and violence post the coordinated blasts.