More out of 100,000 Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu to return


by Zacki Jabbar

Twenty Three more out of over a 100,000 Sri Lankan Tamil regfugees in Tamil Nadu , India are scheduled to return today.

Secretary Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs V.Sivagnanasothy said that the UNHCR would be facilitating the voluntary repatriation programme under which the 23 refugees were due. "Five families comprising 12 persons from Trichy would be ariving by Sri Lankan Airlines UL 132 and another eleven persons from three families from Madurai have been booked on Mihin Lanka flight number MJ 308."

The Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs, D.M.Swaminathan had in consultation with the Ministry of Public Enterprise Development , SriLankan and Mihin Lanka airlines been able to increase the baggage allowance from 40 to 60 kilorams for each of the returnees., he noted adding that the UNHCR was providing free air tickets, a reintegration allowance of US$ 75 per person, transport grant of US$ 19 per person and monetary non-food grant of US$ 75 per family.

Sivanansothy said that 42 refugees had returned on November 24. "This is in addition to the 429 that came during the course of this year.Of the over 100,000 Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu, 5600 have returned since 2011.The numbers in welfare camps is 64,000."

The Ministry would provide support to the returnees by providing livelihood and income generation activities. Those who lost their houses would be provided with compensation packages by the Rehabilitation of Persons, Properties and Industrial Authority (REPPIA)under approved schemes, he said " A durable solution will be provided in the medium term. The return of Sri Lankan refugees is a sign of the prevailing peaceful atmosphere and trust in the reconciliation process."

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