Programme to resettle Sri Lankan Tamils who fled to India
Having completed resettlement of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of the North and East, priority is to be given for the repatriation of thousands of Tamil refugees in India.
This has been revealed to the Integrated Regional Information Network of the United Nations by the Minister of Resettlement Gunaratne Weerakoon.
According to Indian government figures, there are more than 100,000 ethnic Tamil Sri Lankans in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, including 68,000 in 112 government-run camps and 32,000 outside the camps.
The Minister has pointed out that the government has already resettled over 460,000 IDPs during the last three years and is now ready to move on for resettlement of the Sri Lankan Tamils who fled to India during the war time, mainly to avoid their children getting abducted by the tiger terrorists.
Since the end of the conflict in May 2009, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has assisted more than 5,000 refugees to voluntarily return - mostly to Mannar, Vavuniya and Jaffna districts in the north and Trincomalee in the east, with smaller numbers returning to Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Batticaloa, Colombo, Puttalam, Nuwara Eliya and Kandy.
Estimates suggest around 1,200 could return in 2013; and 357 have returned between January and June.
To complement the process, UNHCR India pays the returnees' air fare and assists in obtaining their exit permits and travel documents from the Indian government.
On arrival at the airport in Colombo, UNHCR provides a reintegration grant of 12,000 Sri Lankan rupees (US$91) for each adult and 9,000 ($68) for each child. Another 4,000 ($30) is paid as a travel allowance; and each family can receive a package of non-food supplies after contacting the UNHCR office nearest to their place of origin.
According to UNHCR, lack of direct access to the camps in Tamil Nadu is affecting the agency's efforts to support voluntary repatriation. It conducts repatriation interviews outside the camps, while relying on civil-society groups to monitor the situation within them.
Courtesy : Department of Government Information