Tuesday February 18, 2020
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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
  • 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.

Next Story

itel Releases “Vision 1”, Big Battery Phone at Rs 5,499

itel Vision 1, India's 1st waterdrop smartphone

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itel
itel launched a category disruptor called "Vision 1" with HD+ IPS waterdrop display and big battery at Rs 5,499 in India. Wikimedia Commons

itel, the leading smartphone brand from Transsion India on Monday launched a category disruptor called “Vision 1” with HD+ IPS waterdrop display and big battery at Rs 5,499 in India.

The Vision 1 comes packed with free itel Bluetooth wireless headset worth Rs 799 from its recently launched accessories portfolio and also an instant cashback offer of Rs 2,200+25GB additional data from Reliance Jio, all together at Rs 5,499, the company said.

Other features of the phone include 15.46cm (6.088-inch) HD+ IPS waterdrop with incell technology and 2.5D curved fully laminated display and 4000mAh high capacity battery, among others. The phone comes with 2GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage expandable up to 128GB.

The phone brings the power of enhanced Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered dual camera, dual security features includingmultifunctional fingerprint sensor and face unlock, dual active 4G VoLTE and VoWifi support.

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Features of the itel phone include 15.46cm (6.088-inch) HD+ IPS waterdrop with incell technology and 2.5D curved fully laminated display and 4000mAh high capacity battery, among others. (Representational Image). Pixabay

“Since the brand launch in India in 2016, itel has come a long way and has established itself as the leader in less than 5K segment as per Q3 and Q4 Counterpoint Reports of 2019. This remarkable success in a short span is a testimony of itel’s magical product portfolio, that is based on the needs and demands of customers, backed by extensive market research,” Arijeet Talapatra, CEO, Transsion Holdings India, said in a statement.

Featuring a sleek 8.5 mm design, itel Vision 1 is topped with 500 nits brighter screen for higher transmittance that provides an extra glow to the outdoor viewing experience. It is further adorned with 19:5:9 aspect ratio and 1560×720 resolution for immersive and cinematic video viewing.

itel said Vision 1 provides with 820 hours standby, 24 hours’ average usage, 45 hours of playing music, 8 hours of playing video and 7 hours of gaming. The smartphone comes equipped with 8MP + 0.08MP AI dual rear camera with flashlight, configured in a unique camera deco design, adding to the premium look and feel.

The camera has AI beauty mode, portrait mode, HDR, that helps in smart recognition, automatic adjustments of the camera effects, capturing sharper objects with greater details.

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The front 5MP selfie camera with AI beauty mode houses flashlight to ensure bright and clear selfie, even in low-light areas. Running on the latest Android Pie 9 OS, Vision 1 is powered with 1.6GHz octa-core processor for seamless multitasking functionality. (IANS)