Sri Lanka’s refugees waiting to return home

Sri Lankans still living as refugees in India

Over 100,000 Sri Lanka’s Tamil ethnic minorities are still living as refugees in India, including 60,000 in southern Tamil Nadu state and are all not eligible for citizenship under the new law that came to effect last year. They have to return to the island nation they fled during the three decades long cruel and bloody civil war, many of whom with no homes to return. Sadly some 25,000 children born in these camps do not know any country but India; now they have no choice but to go to Sri Lanka.

Earlier thousands of people were killed in the Sri Lanka’s civil war, that was brought to finish in May 2009 after nearly 30 years. As tens of thousands fled, or were forced from their homes in the country’s north and east; many sought refuge in neighbouring India, particularly in Tamil Nadu.

While many of these refugees wish to return to Sri Lanka, repatriation over the past ten years have been slow as authorities were pre-occupied on other matters. The few who did return during the past five years are worse off as there is scant assurance on homes and jobs; what is more many are yet to get procession of their properties seized during the war.

Where as in Tamil Nadu, these refugees got free education, healthcare, rations and a modest allowance; but had limited access to jobs and cannot get official documents. Hence they opted to take the choice and returned to the island, but are unsettled yet.

Today these Sri Lankan refugees still in India are living in hope that the new President and his government will soon take their case with the government of India for their safe return home.