Academic journal article Refuge

Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees in India: Conceptual Framework of Repatriation Success

Academic journal article Refuge

Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees in India: Conceptual Framework of Repatriation Success

Article excerpt


Repatriation to Sri Lanka has become a primary challenge to Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Indian refugee camps, and a matter of significant public discussion in India and Sri Lanka. Anxiety about repatriation among Sri Lankan Tamil refugees and lack of initiation from the Sri Lankan government threatens the development of a coherent repatriation strategy. This article proposes a conceptual framework of repatriation success for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, which the Sri Lankan government, non-governmental agencies, and Sri Lankan Tamil refugees may use to develop a concrete strategy for repatriation. Based upon the study results of two of the authors' repatriation studies, this article identifies and describes the four key concepts of the repatriation framework: livelihood development, language and culture awareness, social relationships, and equal citizenship within a nation.


Le rapatriement vers le Sri Lanka constitue l'un des defis principaux que doivent affronter les refugies tamouls d'origine sri lankaise vivant dans les camps de refugies en Inde, et un sujet important de debats publics en Inde ainsi qu'au Sri Lanka. L'inquietude envers le rapatriement parmi les refugies tamouls d'origine sri lankaise et l'absence de demarches de la part du gouvernement sri lankais compromet le developpement d'une strategie coherente de rapatriement. L'objectif principal de cet article est de proposer un cadre conceptuel pour un rapatriement reussi a l'egard des refugies tamouls d'origine sri lankaise que le gouvernement sri lankais, les agences non gouvernementales et les refugies dont il est question pourraient utiliser afin de developper une strategie concrete pour le rapatriement. Fonde sur les resultats provenant des etudes de recherche sur le rapatriement effectuees par deux des auteurs, l'article identifie et decrit les quatre concepts cles du cadre de rapatriement: le developpement des moyens de subsistance, une prise de conscience linguistique et culturelle, les liens sociaux et l'egalite de la citoyennete dans le contexte national.


Since Sri Lanka's independence from Britain in 1948, the Sinhalese and Tamil ethnic groups have had a conflictual relationship over control of northern Sri Lanka. (1) The conflict between majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils in Sri Lanka resulted in three waves of Tamil refugee migration in 1984, 1999, and 2006. (2) India has the highest number of Sri Lankan Tamils outside of Sri Lanka because India is geographically close to Sri Lanka. (3) Of the 123 Sri Lankan Tamil refugee camps in India, 115 are in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu because there is a linguistic and ethnic kinship between Sri Lankan Tamils and Indian Tamils. (4) For example, the main language of the state of Tamil Nadu is Tamil, which is also the primary language of Sri Lankan Tamils. (5) The Tamil Nadu state government provides support and resources for the welfare of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in refugee camps. (6) However, the Indian government has refused to give refugee status, permanent resident status, or citizenship to Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, including refugee children who were born in India, primarily because the Indian government expected Tamil refugees to repatriate to Sri Lanka when the civil war ended. (7) The civil war ended in November 2009 and--according to the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement, and Hindu Religious Affairs in Sri Lanka--only 4,691 persons repatriated to Sri Lanka between 2011 and early 2016. (8) Although India has recently signed several international treaties pertaining to the rights and protections of its citizens, Sanderson argues that they provide only some protections for refugees in India. (9) Regardless, India has not signed either the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, which has 140 signatories, an overwhelming majority of the world's nations. There has never been evidence of a forced repatriation from India, but not signing the Refugee Convention and Protocol is a blot on India's record. …

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