Monday November 19, 2018
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Sri Lankan refugees in India were stopped from trying to board boat to Australia

The Tamil Nadu government runs 109 special camps, housing around 60,000 refugees

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Sri Lankan Refugees. Image source: Wikipedia
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  • Smugglers charge 100,000 rupees ($1502) for a one-way journey to Australia, according to investigating officials
  • Over 100,000 Sri Lankans are estimated to have sought refuge in southern India, particularly Tamil Nadu
  • Most refugees have refused to go back to Sri Lanka saying the government there has not come up with a clear plan for their reintegration 

CHENNAI, India- Refugee activists have called on the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu to ease restrictions on Sri Lankan refugees living in guarded camps after police intercepted a group who had escaped and were attempting to migrate to Australia.

Campaigners said the case showed how desperate Sri Lankan refugees were to flee India where they have been confined to closed camps for years and have no right to work.

“They are desperate people looking for a dignified life,” said P Pugalenthi, a lawyer who represents refugees in Chennai.

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“They are practically imprisoned in camps with no freedom of movement. They need permission to step out of the camps. They cannot buy property, start a business or even legally have access to a mobile phone.”

Map of Sri Lanka. Image source: Wikipedia
Tamils distribution in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. Map of Sri Lanka. Image source: Wikipedia

Over 100,000 Sri Lankans are estimated to have sought refuge in southern India, particularly Tamil Nadu, during the conflict between separatist rebels and the Sri Lankan army which lasted a quarter of a century and ended in 2009.

The Tamil Nadu government runs 109 special camps, housing around 60,000 refugees. They receive an allowance, food and education. Some have been in the camps for two decades and many were born there.

The refugees say if the Indian authorities won’t grant them citizenship they should at least be given the right of free movement in the country.

On Thursday June 2, officials intercepted a truck in Tiruvallur near Chennai where they found 33 refugees missing from four government-run camps. The refugees, including six women and six children, were planning to take a boat to Australia, police said.

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“The journey they were going to embark on is very dangerous. They are just being duped by agents, who have been arrested and will be booked under both trafficking laws and the national security act,” coastal security group head Sylendra Babu told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Police said there had been four or five similar attempts by refugees to board boats to Australia in the last three years.

There have been reports of several suicides in the camps this year as well as protests over alleged harassment by authorities.

“They don’t see a future in India with all the existing restrictions,” said V Suresh of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties rights organization, a human rights organization.

“Most of them are sitting in camps with no work permits or means to upgrade their skills. Living here has robbed them of their self-respect and they want to escape.”

Smugglers charge 100,000 rupees ($1502) for a one-way journey to Australia, according to investigating officials.

India has hosted many refugees from neighboring countries over the years but it has no law to define refugees and the status of the Sri Lankan refugees remains ambiguous.

The U.N. refugee agency, which has a limited mandate in India, does not have access to the camps in Tamil Nadu.

Most refugees have refused to go back to Sri Lanka saying the government there has not come up with a clear plan for their reintegration. Many lost everything in the war and cannot see how they would restart their lives. (Reuters)

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  • Real_Peace

    Thanks Newsgram for this revelation!.

    Let me see if I understand this- According to the Lawyer:
    “They are practically imprisoned in camps with no freedom of movement. They need permission to step out of the camps. They cannot buy property, start a business or even legally have access to a mobile phone.”

    So, why not let them leave if they want to, at their own risk?
    Sounds like: Damned if they do Damned if they don’t!!

  • Real_Peace
  • Aparna Gupta

    India should have a proper law regarding refugees to ease the problem. Moreover, authorities should be polite with refugees instead of harassing them.

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Xiaomi Drops Down Smartphone Prices in India

This is the first time when the smartphone market is at par with the feature phone market, each contributing 50 per cent to the overall mobile phone market

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Xiaomi
Xiaomi cuts prices of 5 smartphones in India.

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi on Friday announced that it was permanently cutting the prices of five of its handsets in India, a day after the International Data Corporation (IDC) declared that the company was the market leader in the third quarter of 2018 in the country.

“We are delighted to share that we have seen a reduction in component costs of some of our best-selling phones. We were announced as the number one smartphone vendor in India for the fifth consecutive quarter, as per IDC Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

“As a celebration of that, Xiaomi is announcing price cut for five smartphones,” the company said in a statement.

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Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi on Friday announced that it was permanently cutting the prices of five of its handsets in India.

The 4GB+64GB variants of Redmi Note 5 Pro, Mi A2 and Redmi Y2 are now available for Rs 13,999, Rs 15,999 and Rs 11, 999, respectively while the prices of 6GB+128GB variants of Redmi Note 5 Pro and Mi A2 have dropped to Rs 15,999 and Rs 18,999, respectively.

According to the IDC report, the Chinese handset maker shipped 11.7 million units and became the top brand in the Indian market with 27.3 per cent share in the third quarter this year.

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This is the first time when the smartphone market is at par with the feature phone market, each contributing 50 per cent to the overall mobile phone market. (IANS)