Ninety individuals of 35 families, who had fled to Tamil Nadu, India during the conflict period, will return to Sri Lanka today through the voluntary repatriation programme facilitated by the UNHRC, the Ministry of Resettlement said.
The returnees, expected to arrive at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) this afternoon, would be welcomed by Rehabilitation and Resettlement Ministry secretary and UNHCR Representative in Sri Lanka.
While welcoming returnees the Minister was expected to engage in a discussion with them on their views, a media statement issued by the Ministry said.
“The Rehabilitation, Resettlement Ministry has implemented housing projects and livelihood assistance programmes in the conflict affected areas for which the returnees are also eligible to apply, if they fulfil the prescribed criteria, in order to rebuild their lives,” it said.
“UNHCR assists refugee returnees by supporting their air travel and helps them to complete immigration, security and customs formalities. In addition, UNHCR assists with the opening of bank accounts for the returnees via Bank of Ceylon and provides a reintegration grant and monetised non-food assistance, intended for purchasing basic household goods.
“All returning refugees are also provided with a modest transport grant to help them travel from the airport to their home communities in dignity. Once settled, returnees are requested to register with the UNHCR field office for protection, monitoring and assistance through referrals,” it said.
“As of today, the total number of refugee returnees arriving in Sri Lanka through the UNHCR facilitated voluntary repatriation programme stands at 506 individuals, indicating a continued upward trend since 2014.”