The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees stated that the suspension of the ferry service between Sri Lanka and India has resulted in the drop in the number of Sri Lankan refugees returning to Sri Lanka from India.
According to latest UNHCR statistics, approximately 408 Sri Lankan refugees had voluntarily returned to the Island during the first three months of this year, nearly a third less than the same period last year when 597 refugees returned.
A clear reason for it has not been specified.
However, the UNHCR pointed out that the suspension of the Colombo-Tuticorin ferry service could be a main reason.
The Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India prefer returning by sea as they could bring more of their household items with them.
A total of 1, 728 Sri Lankan refugees returned under UNHCR facilitated voluntary repatriation programme in 2011.
Most refugees are returning from government-run camps in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.