Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India: Rehabilitation mechanisms, livelihood strategies, and lasting solutions

  • Valatheeswaran C
  • Rajan S
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Abstract

Most Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India have been residing in camps in the State of Tamil Nadu for more than two decades under 24/7 police surveillance, following the assassination of the Indian prime minister. This article attempts to examine the trends in the Sri Lankan refugee inflows to India and outflows back to Sri Lanka through official channels over the last three decades, and the government-sponsored responses and mechanisms for their welfare and rehabilitation. In addition, it examines the livelihood options and strategies of the camp refugees based on a primary survey among 100 households and 12 in-depth case studies in the selected refugee camps in Tamil Nadu. The study documents that they do have access to relief assistance from the State Government on humanitarian grounds. Their livelihood strategies include gainful employment activities outside the camp, reliance on social networks both in India and abroad, short-duration or seasonal migration, and investment in human resources such as children's education. This study opines that integrating the Tamil refugees into local society could be a durable solution for their future, especially for those who married Indian citizens and who wish to remain in India. © The Author [2011]. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Coping strategies
  • Integration
  • Livelihoods
  • Sri Lankan refugees

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Authors

  • C. Valatheeswaran

  • S. Irudaya Rajan

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