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* Former LTTE combatants of Sri Lanka receive equipment to start new jobs
Tue, Mar 9, 2010, 09:59 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 09, Colombo: Over 550 former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) combatants in the Eastern Province today got the opportunity to start their lives anew with civilian vocations.

As a part of the government's reintegration process of ex-fighters into the society, Sri Lanka Country Director of USAID and Sri Lanka's Commissioner General for Rehabilitation at a ceremony in Batticaloa today handed over equipment to help the former Tamil Tigers to start new civilian jobs.

The officials handed over canoes, pumps, engines, and tool kits for rice paddy cultivation and fishing, as a part of a USAID-funded International Organization of Migration (IOM) pilot project to help the reintegration of the former rebels into civilian life.

The IOM project aims to reintegrate up to 1,000 former members of LTTE and TMVP in the East.

"Reintegrating former combatants into society, retraining them and helping them to find jobs and generate income, is not easy, but is an essential first step towards stabilization, peace and economic recovery," a press statement quoted IOM Sri Lanka Chief of Mission Mohammed Abdiker.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, USAID Sri Lanka Director Rebecca Cohn praised the courage shown by the former cadres. She encouraged the rehabilitated fighters that the step they took today is a powerful confidence-building effect for the other figheters to take up the opportunity in the future and wished them success.

Addressing the occasion, Commissioner General for Rehabilitation Brigadier Sudantha Ranasinghe said today's event is a very good example of reintegration assistance that can be replicated in the Northern Province.

"It is important to do community rehabilitation and to stop the labeling of this group of people," he noted.

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