Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

Sri Lankan refugee returns by sea to begin tomorrow - UN agency

Publisher UN News Service
Publication Date 11 October 2011
Cite as UN News Service, Sri Lankan refugee returns by sea to begin tomorrow - UN agency, 11 October 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e97ff6a2.html [accessed 21 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
The first returns of Sri Lankan refugees by commercial ferry from India will start tomorrow, the United Nations announced today, marking the first time such repatriation is done by sea.

Thirty-seven people from 15 families will make the trip from the port of Tuticorin in India to Colombo in Sri Lanka as part of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR) voluntary repatriation programme.

In May 2009, the long conflict between Government forces and the rebel separatist group the Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) came to an end. During the final phase of the war, about 276,000 people were displaced, with the majority fleeing to India.

Since then, many Sri Lankans have returned to their homes, but there are still a significant number awaiting repatriation. According to UNHCR, over 1,400 refugees have returned this year, compared to 2,054 last year.

Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for UNHCR, told reporters in Geneva that this is the first time that refugee returns to Sri Lanka are being done by sea. He said this was of particular significance as many refugees have been waiting for ferry returns so they can take all of their possessions with them.

According to the Indian Government, 69,000 Sri Lankan refugees still live in 112 camps in the country's southern state of Tamil Nadu.

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