Will have to forfeit refugee status if they return from Sri Lanka
Tamil refugees who opt to go to Sri Lanka face a tricky situation. If they find unfavourable conditions on the island nation and want to return, they will have to forfeit their refugee status.
As such on their re-entry, they will not be allowed to live with their families in refugee camps. They will also have to forego government benefits meant for refugees.
Therefore, the future of the refugees who have come back from Sri Lanka hangs in balance. In the first place, when they express their desire to get back to Sri Lanka, their names will be deleted from the refugee list .
Thus, at least four persons, including Kokila Kumari, Murugan, Kalidas and Nirmal Raj, who left the Kullanchavadi refugee camp in Cuddalore for Sri Lanka are now left in the lurch.
A. Dharmalingam, leader of the Kullanchavadi refugee camp, told The Hindu that in such cases, the persons concerned could stay with the families not over a period for three months. If they want to extend their stay and want to reclaim the refugee status, they should make a representation to the Commissioner of Rehabilitation in Chennai.
Mr. Dharmalingam also said that about 22 years ago, as many as 430 Tamil families settled down in the Kullanchavadi camp. However, the number had now dropped to 122.
While those hailing from coastal areas such as Mannar and Trincomalee were finding the situation somewhat favourable to return, those from Killinochchi, Mullaitheevu Vavuniya and Jaffna , where the Sri Lankan military presence is still felt , were finding the situation hostile.
As regards government benefits in the refugee camps, Mr. Dharmalingam said the payment of monthly assistance ranging from Rs. 400 to Rs. 1,000 for various age groups of refugees and supply of ration articles were being unduly delayed to month-end.
The camps were plunged into darkness during nights because streetlights were not functioning. Cyclone ‘Thane’ had caused damage to the dwelling units and the government had extended relief ranging from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 2,500 per family, he said.
The refugees face another problem while getting married. Usually, marriages are solemnised among inmates of 113 camps across the State. But, certain couples, unaware of the rules, go into hiding after marriage. They must know that they could go to live in the camp of their choice, where either of the spouses was enrolled.
By properly informing the officials, they could lead a normal life in any of the camps. In case of those who get married to the native of Tamil Nadu, outside the camp, the place of domicile would depend upon the economic background of the partners, Mr. Dharmalingam said.