Ragavan Sinnathurai, 15, was a resident of Kilinochchi during Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war between government forces and the now defeated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who had been fighting for an independent Tamil homeland for more than two decades.
When the conflict intensified in 2008, he and his family fled their homes and escaped into the jungles of Mullaitivu. Today he is one of thousands of returnees to the former rebel capital looking to rebuild their lives.
"I don’t even want to think about the war now or the things we endured. It was really very bad. I lost my parents and I don’t think anything can be worse than that.
"October 2008 was probably one of the worst months of my life. It was a month that changed my life, as well as the lives of so many others.
“The war was particularly fierce between October and December. People were dying mainly because of shell attacks.
"I do not know who is to blame, nor do I want to blame anybody now. It was a painful period.
"I am sitting for my exams next year and now living with my older brother in Kilinochchi. I am lucky to have him. I’m trying to get a good education; to have a good future. I am going to school but sometimes it’s hard with all the bad memories.
"I missed out on a lot of school, but it was a really bad time.
"Today the big thing around here is housing. That’s our main need now. We need better housing conditions. Although it is better than conditions we have lived in, we need a lot of help.
"Of course I miss my parents a lot. But what can I do by thinking about them everyday...
“My brother tells me that we have to move on and that is what I will do. Move on."
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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