SUNDAY OBSERVER Sunday Observer - Magazine
Sunday, 8 February 2004  
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Mihintalava - The Birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhist Civilization

Silumina  on-line Edition

Govt. - LTTE Ceasefire Agreement

Government - Gazette

Daily News

Budusarana On-line Edition

Drop in refugees returning to Lanka in 2003

by P. Krishnaswamy

An estimated 345,734 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned to their homes in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, as well as the Polannaruwa and Puttalam districts, following the signing of the ceasefire agreement between the Government and the LTTE, according to the Ministry of Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Refugees and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

However, only 19,143 families comprising 72,945 persons had returned in 2003 (up to November) as against 69,927 families consisting of 269,012 persons in 2002, indicating a marked drop in IDPs returning in the second year of the ceasefire agreement. The peace process was deadlocked in April 2003. Some IDPs have been relocated elsewhere in the two provinces or were in transit during the end of 2003. During the same period, a further 5,954 persons returned from India for resettlement in the two provinces, according to the Ministry and the UNHCR.

The two organisations have stated that they have based their assessment on figures compiled by Government Agents of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Ampara and Puttalam. Of the 5,954 persons who returned from India, 1090 were facilitated by the UNHCR while the rest were spontaneous. Of the other internally displaced persons, 93,580 comprising 24,026 families are in Welfare Centres.

The number of Lankan refugees in India is estimated to be 71,123 while there are 62,000 Lankan refugees in other countries.

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