There are events in history that bring about extraordinary changes for the better. One such historical and memorable event would be the voluntary return of the refugees who had left their homeland, Sri Lanka, many years ago-an exodus in reverse. Such an event will go a long way in strengthening the process of peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
Remarkable progress has been made since the end of war in Sri Lanka in resolving the language issue, eradicating statelessness, restoring elected local and provincial councils, construction of houses, providing livelihood and in several areas such as infrastructure, economy and development. While there is more to be done in the direction of reconciliation and integration we believe that encouraging the refugees to return will further strengthen the process of peace, reconciliation and integration.
There are more than a hundred thousand Sri Lankan refugees who have taken refuge in India and of them, more than 65,000 are accommodated in 110 government- run refugee camps in Tamil Nadu, India. Many are contemplating to return to their homeland to live with peace and freedom. The refugees with education, skills and values are ready to return to Sri Lanka when normalcy is restored and help in the rebuilding of their nation.
The return of refugees also entails a variety of challenges including reception, assistance, housing, livelihood, psycho-social care, and integration into the health and education system. Successful reintegration is based on economic, political and social factors. Economically OfERR Ceylon is helping returnees to re-establish their lives by providing livelihood assistance and strengthening reintegration support through establishing linkages and counselling. Through training sessions and material support the organization wants returnees to access sustainable livelihoods which allow them to get regular income. Welcome groups have also been set up which aim at supporting new families and connecting them to relevant actors in the locality.