16 Sri Lankan Tamils Arrive in Rameswaram as Economic Crisis Hits Island Nation

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A total of sixteen Tamils fled from north Sri Lanka on boats to escape the ongoing severe economic crisis that is ravaging the nation reached Tamil Nadu’s Rameswaram on Tuesday.

Owing to the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, there is a huge shortage of essential commodities such as milk, food, petrol and diesel.

Thus, the number of refugees from Sri Lanka to Tamil Nadu is likely increasing day by day. Six Sri Lankan Tamils, along with a newborn reached Dhanushkodi from Mannar in Sri Lanka on March 22.

As the Indian Coast Guard rescued them and provided safety and food, ten more have arrived in Tamil Nadu as refugees from Sri Lanka’s Vavuniya during the end of March 22.

Those who left Mannar beach on March 21, have been stranded with children for more than 37 hours without food and water in the scorching sun in the middle of the ocean due to repairs in the boat engine. After several hours of effort, the engine has been repaired and arrived at the Dhanushkodi North Bridge fishing port on March 22.

With tears in their eyes, refugees from Sri Lanka said that in 1990 they came to Tamil Nadu as refugees and left for Sri Lanka again in 2012 after the end of the war as they had lost their kith and kin along with possessions during the Sri Lankan civil war.

Meanwhile, after a decade, they had returned to Dhanushkodi for the second time with children as refugees due to fear of famine and many thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils have sought refuge in Tamil Nadu due to the acute economic crisis in Sri Lanka. According to the refugees, the rigorous price hike of the essential items and rising unemployment forced them to come to India. ‘The situation in Sri Lanka is almost grave. We cannot live there anymore. The price of essential commodities and every single thing is hiked, while everyone lost their job,’ said one of the refugees.

Following this, it has been reported that maritime security officials are planning to intensify surveillance along the international maritime border as many may come to Dhanushkodi as refugees.

Currently, over 75,000 refugees are living in over 130 camps in Tamil Nadu, while all are registered. Reportedly, all these people are located in far-flung or relegated to the slum-like settlements in various cities. The biggest of them is the Mandapam camp in Rameswaram. To sustain themselves, they took up work as labourers and the only upside came with the education their children found in government schools in Tamil Nadu. Generally, Tamils from Sri Lanka keep on arriving in Rameswaram as refugees as they could not cope with some situations in Sri Lanka.

When the civil war broke between the Sri Lankan army and the erstwhile LTTE, over 1 lakh Sri Lankan Tamils from the north fled the nation and returned to Tamil Nadu’s Rameswaram in the ’80s.

According to the Indian Coast Guard, all the people were brought to Mandapam hoverport, while an investigation was carried out on their arrival by the Tamil Nadu police.

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