Formal name: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Estimated population: 18,732,400 (mid 2001)
Map: UNHCR June 2003 - http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/publ/opendoc.pdf?tbl=PUBL&id=40c573b97&page=publ
University of Texas - http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/middle_east_and_asia/sri_lanka_pol01.jpg
Forced migration in Sri Lanka is strongly associated with ethnic conflict and two decades of civil war. While deteriorating relations between Sri Lanka's two main ethnic groups (the Sinhalese and Tamils) led to some migration beginning in the 1950s, the onset of civil war in 1983 saw a massive increase in displacement, especially amongst Sri Lanka's Tamils. Since then, conflict-induced displacement has occurred internally, to nearby India, and further afield to other parts of the world (particularly to the West). The scale of displacement from Sri Lanka - some 700,000 internally displaced and another 700,000 emigrating over twenty years - has not been as large as for some other displaced groups around the world. However, the relative importance of forced migration has been massive: about one in every two Sri Lankan Tamils has been displaced, and about one in every four now lives outside Sri Lanka. Forced migration from Sri Lanka has also gained prominence because people of Sri Lankan origin have consistently ranked amongst the largest groups seeking asylum in Europe, North America and Australasia.
A ceasefire signed in early 2002 between the main protagonists in the conflict has ushered in the most promising period in Sri Lanka's recent volatile history. Since then, flows of forced migrants from Sri Lanka have slowed and some internally displaced people (IDPs) have been able to return to their home. However, despite the relative stability brought by the ceasefire, a permanent political settlement in Sri Lanka still seems a long way off. In particular, the suspension of direct talks between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), political instability in Colombo, divisions within the LTTE, and the slow progress of development work in the north-east are obstacles to IDP return and refugee repatriation. Many of the causes of forced migration in Sri Lanka are yet to resolved.
- BBC Country Profile - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/country_profiles/1168427.stm
- CIA World Factbook 2003 - http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ce.html
- Conflict and Ethnicity in Sri Lanka, INCORE (June 2001) - http://www.incore.ulst.ac.uk/cds/countries/srilanka.html
- Demanding Sacrifice: War and Negotiation in Sri Lanka (Accord, Issue 4, August 1998) - http://www.c-r.org/accord/sri/accord4/index.shtml
- Library of Congress Country Studies - http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/lktoc.html