Sri Lanka raises 23 mln dollars to rehabilitate ex-combatants

September 20, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka is seeking foreign money for an ambitious plan to rehabilitate tens of thousands of former Tamil Tiger rebels and has already collected 23 million dollars, officials said Sunday.

The Tamil Tigers, who fought for a separate homeland from 1972, were defeated by Sri Lankan troops in mid-May when the military killed the rebel leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran. Britain, Japan, the United States have already given money through the International Organisation for Migration, justice ministry spokesman Gamini Godakanda said.

Already 3,000 ex-rebels are being trained in plumbing, masonry, carpentry and electrical work at three centres.

The government wants to increase the number of training facilities to 20, officials said.

Commissioner General of Rehabilitation, Major General Daya Ratnayake, said the enhanced program will be launched within two months. Vocational training for former rebels will last from two months to a year.

“Some of these men and women are dangerous people and we want to transform them into responsible people in society,” Ratnayake said.

Officials estimate the number of former rebels still in camps for war-displaced civilians to be about 15,00

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