June 04, Colombo: Sri Lanka has almost completed the rehabilitation of nearly 12,000 former cadres of the Tamil terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Bureau of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation (BCGR) has said.
The Commissioner General of Rehabilitation Major General Jagath Wijetilleke said that nearly 12,000 former LTTE cadres either surrendered or were taken into custody following the end of the war in 2009.
According to the Commissioner, there are 132 former LTTE members currently undergoing the one-year rehabilitation program that is jointly conducted by the Sri Lanka Army and BCGR at the Poonthottam Rehabilitation Center in Vavuniya.
Delegates from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visit the ex-LTTE cadres regularly as do the family members of the participants, he said.
"Once in every three months, we are reintegrating a batch, and the next one will be in June," he added.
From those who have already been rehabilitated and reintegrated back into society, more than 230 have qualified to pursue higher education while 35 are currently studying at universities.
The progress and welfare of those who have already been reintegrated are constantly being monitored by the Socio Economic Welfare Coordinating Office for Rehabilitated Beneficiaries, established at the District Secretariat offices in all districts in the Northern and Eastern provinces, the official said.
The primary responsibility of this office is to ensure the successful and sustainable socio-economic reintegration of all rehabilitated ex-combatants and their families in the respective districts by coordinating with all government and corporate sector institutions, INGOs, NGOs and the community, he added.
After completing the government-sponsored rehabilitation program, ex-combatants become eligible to receive loans up to Rs. 250,000 at a minimal interest rate to start livelihood programs.
So far, 1,773 rehabilitated ex-combatants have received this loan and many more applications are being evaluated, the Commissioner General said. In addition to the loan facility, the Bureau is also exploring ways to provide the rehabilitated individuals with employment opportunities abroad.
"A construction company in Singapore has expressed its interest in recruiting 40 rehabilitees who have received vocational training," he said.
The rehabilitation period includes professional training courses in areas such as mechanical skills, information technology, agriculture, animal husbandry, beauty culture, food processing, education, handicrafts, carpentry and construction, among others. Many are currently employed in both government and private sectors.
The rehabilitation process also comprises psychological assistance, education, sports, and spiritual, religious and cultural empowerment. Since the end of the war in May 2009, the Government has spent Rs. 2.5 billion on the rehabilitation of former LTTE cadres. In 2013, the Government increased the allocation for these programs from Rs. 300 million to Rs. 500 million.
Following a recommendation by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), a special committee was appointed to study the cases of detained LTTE suspects and expedite legal action where necessary, the National Plan of Action for the Implementation of LLRC Recommendations said in a statement.