A group of 36 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in Tamil Nadu camps in India, arrived Sri Lanka today under the voluntary repatriation program facilitated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the ANI news agency reported.
The refugee returnees will get back to the areas where they were from in Kilinochchi, Mannar, Jaffna, Colombo, Trincomalee and Vavuniya.
According to the Secretary to Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs V. Sivagnanasothy, a group of 20 male and 16 female refugees returned on a Mihin Lanka Airline flight from Chennai.
Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs D. M. Swaminathan, has had a discussion with the UNHCR and facilitated the process for the refugees to return.
The UNHCR has been assisting the voluntary repatriation of Sri Lankan refugees by providing free air tickets, reintegration allowance of USD 75 per person, transport allowance of USD 19 per person and monitory non-food grant of USD 75 per family.
Since 2011, already 4,799 refugees have returned to Sri Lanka. Over 64,000 are stationed in 109 welfare camps in India. Totally, over 100,000 refugees are currently in India.
The Sri Lankan Government under the leadership of the President Maithripala Sirisena has encouraged the voluntary refugee returnee program on a phased out basis.
Minister Swaminathan has also initiated a Cabinet paper on which livelihood assistance of maximum Rs. 100,000 to refugee returnees is provided to support the livelihood activities.
Further, the provision of dry ration has been already approved for 6 months. The Ministry Secretary also informed that, the refugees who lost their houses will be provided with houses under the housing program of the Ministry. (Colombo Gazette)