The Forgotten Refugees of Sri Lanka

The refugee crisis has been increasing all over the world, but the Sri Lankan Tamil Refugee crisis which has been visible for the last 35 years has been left out of the media limelight.

The Forgotten Refugees of Sri Lanka
The Forgotten Refugees of Sri Lanka

Ever since the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) has raged war with the Sri Lankan army for a state of their own, there have been countless Tamils who have fled to Tamil Nadu due to the killings since 1983.

Most of these Tamils that have fled are from the Central parts of Sri Lanka. These people used to work in tea plantations. These refugees have major issues of shelters, movements and even psychological issues due to trauma. There are a high percentage of suicides and school dropouts as a result.

With the war over in May 2009, more ease of getting access back to Sri Lanka has been enabled with visa fees and overstay penalties being waived. This however has still not been such a positive signal to the refugees. In the last eight and a half years only 10% of the refugees have returned, which amounts to 9,238 people as per records.

There is relief in certain areas, such as professional courses being encouraged and leading to jobs. Improvement in lifestyle after jobs has created a persona of Sri Lanka being an alien country which will not offer such benefits.

Both countries, India and Sri Lanka would want the refugees to return back to their home country which is Sri Lanka. The reason being, Tamil Nadu would not want to be known as the state with the largest number of refugees in India. As for Sri Lanka, respect has been lost across the world and hence would want to sort the ethnic reconciliation.

Looking at previous examples between India and its neighbours, Pakistani and Bangladeshi refugees were given citizenship in India. So, India may prefer giving citizenship to these refugees, to close down the camps officially. This major issue of Refugees from Sri Lanka is seen to take a toll similar to the war and should be looked into with a far wider concern.