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    40 Sri Lankan refugees back home

    27TH_REFUGEES_G_27_2324225fEmotional ties and personal aspirations of Sri Lankan refugees living in India drew them back to their homeland.

    About 40 refugees from various camps in Tamil Nadu voluntarily left for the island from Tiruchi early on Thursday morning with the assistance of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

    It was in December 1996, S. Karuppiah came to India in an illegal boat. After a wait of over 19 years, the 65-year-old is on his way to Mannar now, where he says he holds  kaani  (land). “All those who came with me have returned already, but I was hesitant. But now I want to return home, see my children and land. I want to be with them when I breathe my last,” he says.

    Thirty-year-old K. Rajeswari left the Island in 2008, leaving one of her sons behind with her mother.

    “My father is very ill and hospitalised in Colombo. He wants to see me badly. And we are missing our elder son,” she says.

    She wants to complete the construction of their house in Chettikulam in Vavuniya District, which they left unfinished in 2008.

    A 20-year-old refugee, who wished to be anonymous, is returning home to be with his childhood friends and find a job there, so that he can be with his family.

    It took more than eight months for this post-graduate in commerce to get a passport, relevant documents, after he completed his studies in May last year. He is anxious to meet his parents and siblings in Mannar.

    Asked whether he was reassured of returning home after a gap of seven years, he says, “I don’t know what awaits me there. I think it is fifty-fifty. I would know of the conditions only when I get there. I cannot keep waiting as I have to find a job for myself.”

    Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai A. Sabarullah Khan told  The Hindu, “ Repatriation of the refugees is an ongoing process and we assist them with documentation and passports, besides birth certificates and other registration.”

    Asked whether there was a spurt in the return of refugees after the change of government in the island, he said, “There has not been a change in the policy of the government and we continue to assist refugees to return home.”

    Between 2002 and 2014, the UN body has assisted 12,355 refugees in going back back to their homeland.

    The Hindu

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