Operation: Sri Lanka
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|2019 planning figures|
|2,810||refugee returnees will receive cash grants|
|1,150||households will receive multipurpose cash grants to meet basic and essential needs|
|80%||of people of concern will have access to legal assistance|
|2017 year-end results|
|83%||of the programme priorities identified by the community have been implemented|
|1,520||Sri Lankan returnees received cash assistance for NFIs|
|910||refugees were provided with multipurpose cash grants|
|470||individuals were registered as asylum-seekers|
|350||government staff were trained on refugee and international law|
|190||refugees departed on resettlement|
People of Concern
Operational environmentSri Lanka has yet to ratify the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. There is no national legal framework or official policy on refugees and asylum-seekers. While UNHCR’s processing of asylum claims is tolerated under agreement with the Government, asylum-seekers and refugees are still perceived as residing illegally in the country.
While there is more room for dialogue on human rights issues following the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015, issues relating to asylum are still viewed with a degree of suspicion and reluctance.
The change in the United States of America’s resettlement policy in 2017 is expected to have an adverse impact on the number of submissions and resettlement departures in 2018 and will result in refugees’ longer stay in Sri Lanka.
UNHCR will continue to strengthen its cooperation and coordination with key government stakeholders and advocate for the reinstatement of a regular stakeholders meeting (i.e. the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Wayamba Development and Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Immigration and Emigration, State Intelligence Services and the Police). These meetings previously provided space for all parties to raise issues and find constructive solutions. UNHCR will seek to develop the capacity of government stakeholders through trainings with a view to increase understanding of refugee protection and associated issues.
Key prioritiesUNHCR’s strategy will focus on enhancing asylum space; advocating for Government to assume responsibility for refugee management and protection; and securing durable solutions.
UNHCR’s refugee assistance programme will be limited with increasing numbers of refugees in the country, requiring stronger outreach to other operational partners to assist refugees as envisaged under the community outreach strategy. UNHCR will continue to provide limited assistance to refugees by way of a modest monthly allowance, and support for refugee children to access primary education. Secondary school children will continue to receive English language training and adult refugees will have access to English language, IT and some life skill classes. Strategic advocacy on the right to work and access to government schools for asylum-seeker and refugee children will continue.
The number of Sri Lankan refugees repatriating will continue to grow with UNHCR providing reintegration assistance and advocating for the full inclusion of returnees within government support programmes in accordance with the national policy on durable solutions to conflict-affected displacement.