BONN, July 4, Reuter: West Germany plans to send most of its 26,000 Tamil refugees back to Sri Lanka within the next two years, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.

A Ministry statement said the plan accorded with United Nations (UN) resolutions on the treatment of refugees and the repatriations would be voluntary.

Under the plan, drawn up by Interior Minister Friedrich Zimmermann, the Federal and State governments would share travel costs for returning Tamils of 300 marks for an adult and half that sum for a child, up to a limit for each family of 1,000 marks.

About a quarter of the 130,000 Tamil refugees who fled to India at the height of an armed conflict between Tamil separatists and the Sri Lankan government have been repatriated since December and thousands more are expected to return, the ministry said.

Zimmerman said those in West Germany had little chance of being granted political asylum.

He said he expected the program to cost 15 million marks a year, but if 20,000 refugees went back to Sri Lanka over the next two years, it would save regional and local authorities at least 200 million marks in welfare payments.

Article extracted from this publication >> July 8, 1988