UNHCR brings back refugees from Tamil Nadu without ensuring prospects for resettlement

[TamilNet, Monday, 02 September 2019, 23:42 GMT]
Uprooted Eezham Tamils who are returning from their overseas displacement in Tamil Nadu find it increasingly challenging to regain their lands and livelihood in the North-East of the island, civil officials in Mannaar said. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) and the SL state apparatus fail to meet even the basic requirements of those returning, the officials said. While the UNCHR facilitates the flight transport of the refugees through Colombo airport, it expects the SL State to complete the resettlement arrangements at the district level. However, the officials coming under the Colombo government in the district say they are unable to cope with the challenges, even to find temporary accommodation to the returning families.

The officials, who didn't wish to be named, blamed the UNHRC for bringing people back without ensuring any delivery from the SL State on their resettlement.

The UNHRC has taken for granted that the Eezham Tamil refugees who have stayed in various camps in Tamil Nadu and who were deprived of facilities for a long time would manage the uncertainty facing them in their homeland as well.

For many of the returned families, especially for those who were born in Tamil Nadu or uprooted from their villages while they were children, the environment is different. They find it difficult to grasp why they could not be sent back to their original homes and feel stranded in no-man's land, the officials said.

Either their lands are occupied by the SL departments or by people who have been internally displaced or encroached.

Instead of arranging just the tickets and transport, the UNHRC must be ensuring the lands of the uprooted people and the availability of the necessary facilities before assuring the families of their return programme, the officials said.

The uprooted people are returning from Raamanaatha-puram, Thooththuk-kudi (Tuticorin), Kanniyaakumari (Kanyakumari), Thirunelveali, Naga-paddinam (Nagapattinam), Eeroadu (Erode), Mathurai, Puthuk-koaddai (Pudukkottai) and Vealoor (Vellore) camps in Tamil Nadu.

There are no crown lands that could be allocated for the returning refugees from Tamil Nadu in Mannaar district as the SL departments, or the encroachers have already seized almost all the properties, the officials said.


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