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Thayasevan, "I'm starting to feel normal again"

More than two years after the war, this former fighter is facing an uphill battle at reintegration Courtesy of IOM Sri Lanka
Thayasevan, aged 36, who lost his right leg fighting for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was recently released from a government “rehabilitation centre” and is trying to restart his life. Four thousand other former rebels remain in the centres. He told IRIN his story:

"I lost my leg during the conflict, and until recently felt I had lost my entire life.

“It’s been a tough road. I joined the LTTE in 1991 of my own free will. There were frequent roundups and arrests of innocent people in my village, leading me to become a long-term LTTE member.

“It was a gruesome time being with the LTTE. I have suffered physically and emotionally. I could not even attend to my dying mother due to LTTE regulations. It was a very heart-breaking time.

"After the war, I was placed in a rehabilitation centre, while my wife and two children returned to our village and resettled.

“Last year [in the rehabilitation centre] was particularly tough for us financially - so tough that my wife had to take up fishing to feed our children.

"When I returned from the rehabilitation centre in 2010, I wasn’t really able to manage things for my family and wondered what the future held.

“Without a job I felt disabled and soon found myself having to borrow money to get by. It was a terrible time for us.

“Fortunately, after two months I was able to find work lagoon fishing.

“Today, things are slowly improving and I have paid back my debts and even bought a small plot of land for a house. More importantly, however, the community has accepted me back - accepting me as one of their own.

“Today I feel free from my past; but more importantly am starting to feel normal again."

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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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