Finding paid work – especially for Tamil Â youths – is still difficult in Sri Lankaâ€™s former conflict zone in the north even after three years of peace and massive infrastructure projects, experts say, pointing to the regionâ€™s anaemic private sector as a main cause.
Although official employment data for the region is unavailable, experts in the area estimate that up to 30 percent of the northâ€™s population is unemployed, as opposed to a national rate of 4 percent. Based on the most recent census in 2001, 28 percent of the countryâ€™s population is between the ages of 10-24, and there are some 280,000 youths in the former war zone, according to a 2012 government estimate.
Most people who work in what is known as the Vanni – which includes the districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu plus parts of Jaffna, Vavuniya and Mannar – do so only sporadically, according to a March 2012 report released by the government, UN Childrenâ€™s Fund and the World Food Programme.
â€œDaily labour was the most common income generation activity [when the study was conducted], this being the main source of income among 37 percent of the population,â€ it said.