Refugees ready to return, but need a clear plan

jaffnaThe overwhelming feeling among the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India is to return home, but the repatriation process should be well-structured with the backing of a Memorandum of Understanding among India, Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, according to S.C. Chandrahasan, founder, Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR).

Asked about Sri Lanka’s Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran’s appeal to the refugees to return home, he said the Sri Lakan Tamils wanted to protect their soil and end their refugee status.

Mr. Wigneswaran, who was here on a private visit, had said the return of the refugees was important to ensure adequate representation for Tamils in Parliament and to foil the government’s design to alter the demography of traditional Tamil areas.

Mr. Chandrahasan said he had discussed the issue with Mr. Wigneswaran. Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris, in a letter, informed Mr Chandrahasan that “voluntary return of refugees is an important aspect of the resettlement process and an integral part of the implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations.”

He said: “If they are able to survive in an unknown territory [India], it will not be a problem for them to start a new life in their own land. But they need support from the governments of India and Sri Lanka,” he said.

Mr. Chandrahasan, son of the late Tamil leader, S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, also known as Thanthai Selva, said the needs of the refugees were diverse. They required a time frame to prepare for the return. (The Hindu)

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