23 July 2023 marks 40 years since the outbreak of civil war in Sri Lanka. Since 1983, when the war broke out in the country, the Tamil community escaped and sought refuge in India to ensure the safety of their children and women.
More than 300,000 refugees settled in small refugee camps all over the state of Tamil Nadu, India. As a state that is not a signatory of the 1951 Geneva Convention or its Protocols, India has no special legal framework for refugees or asylum-seekers and treats them only as “illegal migrants”. Hence, Tamil refugees in the country have been stuck in limbo for around 40 years – despite their ethnic affinity with the host community. JRS has been accompanying them through income-generating programmes and access to education and livelihoods since the 1990s.
Despite all the difficulties Tamil refugees are forced to face in India, most of them still prefer to stay in the country rather than return to Sri Lanka, where the conflict ended in May 2009. This is enough proof that local integration in the host country is the most preferred durable solution for them.
Some encouraging legal developments have been seen in recent years, but much still needs to be done to ensure a durable solution for Tamil refugees.
Read more about the necessary steps to be taken so that Tamil refugees in India are not forgotten.
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