In a bid to attract and retain Sri Lankan refugees domiciled in Tamil Nadu, the Government has upgraded the assistance provided through a newly approved Cabinet paper.

The move comes in amidst reports of at least 40 percent of refugees who return to the country from India are forced to go back as the Government cannot match the facilities given by Tamil Nadu State Government.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs has decided to provide livelihood assistance of up to Rs. 100,000 to each returning family. “The livelihood assistance is granted for any type of self-employment or any industry that they will engage in upon returning to Sri Lanka,” Ministry Secretary, V. Sivagnanasothy said The Voluntary Organization for Vulnerable Community Development (VOVCOD, a non-governmental organization working for the welfare of returnees from Tamil Nadu said that many preferred to return to India as they were disgruntled with the facilities provided.

According to officials attached to the organization, the issue is widely prevalent in Vavuniya, Trincomalee and parts of the Wanni.

“They are given education and special quotas to enter universities. Their living conditions are good compared to Sri Lanka. Therefore, they prefer to go back to Tamil Nadu rather than stay here,” an official attached to VOVCOD said.

The Ministry while admitting there were gaps to be filled said measures were taken to provide the returnees with basic facilities.

However, VOVCOD officials said that it was inadequate to match the level of facilities given by the Tamil Nadu State Government, and urged the Sri Lankan Government to draft a fresh action plan for Tamil Nadu returnees.