30 refugees to return from India, says Sri Lanka

30 refugees to return from India, says Sri Lanka

Colombo, Oct 12 (IANS) The Sri Lankan government on Wednesday said 30 Sri Lankan refugees in south India will return home next week.

The Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs said the refugees will return as part of a voluntary repatriation programme assisted by the UN refugees agency, UNHCR, Xinhua news agency reported.

V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary of the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs, said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will provide free air tickets, reintegration allowance of $75 per person, transport allowance $19 and monitory non-food grant of $75 per family.

Since 2011, the ministry said, 5,110 refugees (1,863 families) have returned to Sri Lanka. Over 100,000 refugees are currently in India.

Minister Swaminathan initiated a Cabinet paper based on which livelihood assistance to refugee returnees is provided to support the livelihood activities.

The provision of dry ration to them has already been approved for six months.

The ministry has instructed officials to provide compensation for those who have lost their houses and suffered loss of family members and injuries.

Sivagnanasothy said the refugees who lost their houses will be provided with houses under the ministry programme.

The Sri Lankan government of under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena has initiated action to encourage the voluntary refugee returnee programme on a phase-out basis and the government said the current trend of increased refugee returnees is a sign of reconciliation and moving towards permanent peace.

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