With monetary aid from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 1,600 Sri Lankan Tamils living in Tamil Nadu as refugees have returned to their country so far since January 2012.
According to the New Indian Express, officials of the UNHCR, who have their field office in the city, said that about 1,264 Sri Lankan Tamils, who were living in special camps across the State, had returned through voluntary repatriation to their country between January and December 2012. This year, about 350 refugees have returned so far. In Chennai there are two open refugees’ camps – in Gummidipoondi and Puzhal.
About 1,670 refugees returned to their country in 2011 which was comparatively lesser than 2,040 persons in 2010 after the end of war in 2009.
Officials in the UN refugee agency said that many factors including medical and education facilities were found to be reasons behind the declining number of Sri Lankan nationals return to their native country. “Some of them postpone their applications saying that they don’t want to discontinue medical treatments and education here. But so far nobody had complained to us about ‘safety’ as reason for not returning to their country,” an official said.
The UNHCR also conducts checks for the safety of the refugee back in his country. “Once a person expresses his willingness to return and applies to us, we check if the place they want to settle is safe. We also do random monitoring of these people after they return. But if they face any trouble upon their return, they get back to us,” an official explained.
There are over 60,000 refugees from the island nation living in refugee camps in Tamil Nadu which constitutes about 36 per cent of total number of refugees in the country.