Colombo: Former Tamil rebels and ex-paramilitary troops were given fishing gear, carpentry tools and agricultural equipment as part of a rehabilitation programme, officials said Tuesday.
Some 500 ex-combatants received the aid in the eastern Batticaloa district under a programme funded by the US Agency for International Development with the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), the officials said.
The programme plans to reintegrate up to 1,000 former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and a paramilitary group known as the TMVP, which was made up of a breakaway faction of the rebels.
"Reintegrating former combatants into society, retraining them and helping them to find jobs and generate income is not easy, but is an essential first step towards stabilisation, peace and economic recovery," IOM chief of mission Mohammed Abdiker was quoted as saying in a statement.
Some 10,000 former rebels need to be re-inserted into the society since they were defeated in the civil war in May.