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Jan 19, 2009 (LBO) – Britain has started deporting illegal Sri Lankan migrants with the first batch having arrived by charter flight on January 15 at the island international airport, the British High Commission said. It said in a statement that the UK and Sri Lankan governments have struck a deal to send back illegal migrants on a regular programme of charter flights.

“The British Government and the Government of Sri Lanka have an ongoing agreement to facilitate the return of Sri Lankan nationals who have been remaining unlawfully in the UK,” it said.

The first charter flight of Sri Lankan returnees who arrived last week marks the start of what is hoped will be a regular program of charter flights, it said.

The high commission said the Sri Lankan government “was instrumental” in ensuring the flight took place.

The agreement also “supports the UK Border Agency policy to detect, detain and remove those who have unlawfully entered the UK or pose a threat.”

The British high commission statement did not say who the returnees were.

Hundreds of Sri Lankans, especially minority Tamils, are known to have entered Britain illegally and are living and working there.

The exodus started after t