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Bikes bring hope for Sri Lanka returnees

As Sri Lanka's long endured civil war ended in May of 2009, upwards of 40,000 bicycles were found abandoned as people fled for safety, according to IRIN.

As people make their way back to the northern region of the nation, the bikes are being given out for free as a means for returnees to get around. The UNHCR reports that refugee camps in India continue to empty as more residents begin the journey back home to start their lives again. Returnees will need to begin working right away and having a bike is a crucial aspect in getting people back on track.

"We knew the bicycles were going to play a vital role," Rupavthi Keetheswaran, the government agent for Kilinochchi District, told IRIN. "This was one of the first things we did when people started to return to their villages."

People living in the war-torn country have few ways to get around as working public transportation systems have been halted since 1983, so for many, bicycling is their sole transportation and their livelihood.

"The bicycle is the main means of transport. Most of the time it's the only means," Chandradas Chandran, 55, and one of the 500 returnees to a remote village, told the news source.

The need for bikes are a must as humanitarian efforts continue to try and piece the country back together. Officials said that until residents begin making steady incomes, the roads and public transportation will not be fixed due to lack of funds.
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