Refugee return figures decline in first half

“It is difficult to determine why the numbers of refugees returning to Sri Lanka have fallen,” says UNHCR Representative in Sri Lanka Michael Zwack. “It is an individual decision to return home based on individual considerations,” he added. According to UNHCR’s statistics at end- 2011, there were 68,152 Sri Lankan refugees living in 112 camps in Tamil Nadu and another 32,467 living outside the camps. Worldwide there are more than 136,000 Sri Lankan refugees living in 65 countries. The overwhelming majority of refugees are returning from Indian government-run refugee camps in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu with a handful returning from Malaysia, Georgia and Hong Kong.The refugees are mainly returning to Trincomalee, Mannar, Vavuniya and Jaffna districts with smaller numbers returning to Kilinochchi, Batticaloa, Colombo, Mullaitivu, Puttalam and Kandy. The number of Sri Lankan refugees returning home with UNHCR’s help declined during the first half of 2012 compared with the same period last year.The latest statistics show that 662 individuals voluntarily returned to Sri Lanka with UNHCR’s help during the first six months of this year to end-June, nearly a third less than the same period in 2011 when 962 refugees returned. A total of 1,728 Sri Lankan refugees returned under UNHCR’s facilitated voluntary repatriation programme in 2011. read more

Mens volleyball Ohio State looking to defend MIVA crown tournament play starts

Junior outside hitter Maxime Hervoir hits the ball over the net during a match against #7 Fort Wayne at St. John Arena on Thursday. The Buckeyes won the match, 3-0. Credit: Courtesy of OSUThe No. 2 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (27-2 16-0 MIVA) faces Quincy University (7-21, 2-14 MIVA) in the first round of the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) Tournament on Saturday.Both OSU and Quincy come into the matchup having just faced each other on April 8 when the Buckeyes won 3-1. The win made them perfect in conference play for the regular season, becoming only the second team in 25 years to do so. “I told the kids in the locker room that regardless of what sport you play — volleyball, baseball, tiddlywinks — to go through a conference undefeated, 16 matches, and not losing one is a pretty neat accomplishment,” coach Pete Hanson said. “Very proud of those young men.”Saturday’s match will mark the third time this season that the teams have met. In both previous meetings, Quincy extended the match to four sets. Quincy’s sophomore libero Kolbie Knorr will head the Hawks’ defense on Saturday. Knorr currently sits in the No. 4 spot in digs per set in the MIVA standings with 2.04. “Quincy, they’ll come in and play hard,” Hanson said. “It’s kind of more about us than about the guys in the other uniform.”For the Buckeyes, it’s senior opposite Miles Johnson and junior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen who sit in the top five in three statistical categories in the MIVA. While Johnson is top-ranked in kills and kills per set, Szerszen is slated second best in kills and kills per set, and fourth best in hitting percentage.Szerszen was honored as the MIVA Player of the Year on Thursday. It’s his second season in a row receiving the award. He is the the fourth Buckeye and 10th MIVA player to win the award twice.“It definitely helps to get recognized like this especially when you try to put the effort to help your team all throughout the season,” Szerszen said. “But I’m not the only one doing stuff. Everyone is adding stuff to the team.”In addition to the Player of the Year honor, Szerszen and five other Buckeyes received first or second team all-MIVA recognition. Hanson was also rewarded on Thursday, repeating as the MIVA Coach of the Year. The 13-time recipient is one of seven OSU coaches to receive the award in conference history.“[The award] means a lot because to me, it’s a reflection of the program,” Hanson said. “That means Ohio State volleyball is doing the right things.”The Buckeyes and the Hawks clash for the final time this season on Saturday at 5 p.m. in St. John Arena. read more