The government of Sri Lanka is providing vocational and technical training to about 4,000 ex-combatants of the LTTE, an official of the Ministry of Vocational and Technical Training said.
"About 4,000 ex-combatants are being given vocational training by the ministry which is supplemented by soft-skills training and linkages to jobs," Ms. T. M. L. C. Senaratne, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Vocational and Technical Training told a discussion held in Colombo yesterday on a draft national policy on Technical Education and Vocational Training for Vulnerable People in Sri Lanka.
A senior official of ministry later told the Island Financial Review that the Ministry of Justice and Law Reforms handled the finances for the project and directed successful candidates with micro-finance assistance to set up their own businesses.
"The Ministry of Justice funds this projects for which the Ministry for Vocational and Technical Training conducts the courses. The courses include training in motor mechanics, carpentry and electronics," the highly placed official said.
"At the moment there are about 4,000 ex-combatants of the LTTE in this programme. It is an ongoing programme and we expect the next batch as soon as the Ministry of Defence clears them," the official said.
The six months vocational training programme is extended by an additional three months for the soft-skills training. It is a residential programme with Vavuniya being the biggest centre with almost 3,000 former LTTE cadres.
Jaffna, Valikada, Ambepussa and Pallekale are the locations for some of the other centres.
The draft national policy on Technical Education and Vocational Training for Vulnerable People in Sri Lanka formulated by the Ministry of Vocational and Technical Training together with the International Labour Organisation—after deliberations between government, private sector, NGOs and other stake holders—identifies ex-combatants of the LTTE and other groups such as the TMVP as vulnerable groups.
"Since there is no peace agreement or an accord in Sri Lanka, the situation in the country is different from many cases. Thus, it is important to see how best the policy can serve the fighting cadres who have given up arms voluntarily or surrendered to authorities," the draft policy says.
According to the draft, about 15,000 ex-combatants have already retuned to normal civilian life in the East, however, points out the need for an accurate survey to gauge the exact numbers.
The draft goes on to identify some challenges with regard to these former cadres that would need to be tackled in order for the national policy on vocational and technical training to be affective.
Apart from the post-combat trauma for which psychological assistance is crucial the draft says the lack of information and available assistance during the transition process from the armed services to civilian life are challenges ex-combatants would have to face together with the feeling that they have lost their status and other conditions they may have enjoyed when they were active members of the LTTE.
The draft highlights that the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) signed an MoU with the Ministry of Defence for which USAID would provide funds to reintegrate 1,000 ex-combatants.
Capacity building and skills development of ex-combatants are governed by a plethora of laws and conventions both local and international: for example Gazette Notification Extraordinary No. 1462/8 of 2006 states ex-combatants would be provided with such facilities.