Two hundred Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka are stranded in West Africa, BBC reports, after the human smuggling ring they hired to bring them to Canada marooned them in Togo.
The BBC says the contingent travelled by ship from Sri Lanka to India, then on to Ethiopia before flying to Togo. After being assured they could fly to Canada from neighbouring Ghana, they say their human smuggler abandoned them, the report says.
They are currently being detained in an open stadium in Lome — Togo’s capital city — and have complained of inadequate food and medical facilities. There are 19 women and 11 children among them, according to BBC reports.
The 200 fled Sri Lanka following the country’s recent civil war, and fear they may be killed if they’re made to return to their homeland.
“We have been arrested and detained here on charges of overstaying our visa period since 24th October last year and have been told that unless we voluntarily return to Sri Lanka, we would be deported forcefully,” one detainee told the BBC’s Tamil Service.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Tuesday he could not confirm reports about the wayward refugee claimants.