By Chris Kamalendran
Around 3000 Sri Lankan refugees living in India are willing to return to their motherland on their own accord, International Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told the Sunday Times.
In his first official visit to India as minister in charge of foreign affairs early this week, Mr Gunawardena met India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and during talks they discussed the return of Sri Lankans who had fled to India during the war.
Around 80,000 Sri Lankans who fled the country during the war live in welfare centres in Tamil Nadu.
“We are making arrangements to accept the returnees and we will provide necessary facilities to them through the respective District Secretariats. The first batch of returnees is expected early February. We will make arrangements with State agencies in the north and east to provide immediate assistance to resettle them in their original lands,” the Minister said.
He said most of those willing to return were elderly persons and a list of their names had already been prepared.
“Once they return, we will verify their identities and arrange them to resettle,” he said.