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Tags Current Affairs

Sri Lankan economic refugees

Date: 26 March 2022 Tags: India & World


The serious economic crisis in Sri Lanka has created a new category of refugees arriving into India--- economic refugees.



Since the 2018 Easter bombing, Sri Lanka has been witnessing economic meltdown. The country’s economic condition is in tatters.



  • Indian authorities believe that more refugees are on their way as unemployment and inflation has skyrocketed in the island nation.

  • Tamil Nadu is the most favourable destination for Sri Lankan refugees as it is located just across the shallow Palk Strait.

  • People and political class of Tamil Nadu have been accommodative to welcome Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka.

  • The situation is not the same prior to 1991 when there were no strict rules or guidelines for refugees. The assassination of former PM Rajiv Gandhi changed the situation.


Sri Lankan refugees

  • Refugees are mainly of Tamil-origin and arrive from eastern and northern Sri Lanka, which has large population of ethnic Tamilians.

  • The ethnic clashes between local Sinhala Buddhists and Lankan Tamils caused this group to flee the island.

  • The migration was facilitated by an agreement between Prime Ministers Lal Bahadu Shastri and Sirimao Bhandarnaike for allowing Indian-origin Tamils to choose their country.


Refugee wave

  • The first wave was witnessed during the mid-80s when LTTE was in its initial phase and anti-Tamil riots were witnessed across the island.

  • The second wave was seen after 1990s when Indian government stopped helping the refugees following assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

  • The third wave start in late 90s and continued till early 2000s when military campaign to eliminate the rebels was building up. The final phase of civil war saw highest exodus.


Current status

  • The accommodative stance of Tamil Nadu government has changed. Refugees are no longer given dignified lives.

  • Majority of refugees live in camps that are over-filled and cramped. Intelligence group keep continuous watch over their activities.

  • Lately, India has become a major transit stop for refugees planning to migrate to Europe and Australia.


Economic status

  • Hyper-inflation has made many daily staples like rice and milk unaffordable for many sections. Fuel and other essentials are already facing shortages.

  • Many people are waiting for the right opportunity to flee the island towards India. They are hoping to survive on government welfare schemes in Tamil Nadu.

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