Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Numbers of IDPs in Sri Lanka

by Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, Geneva, accessed April 19, 2012

However, the fact that people have returned to their homes does not necessarily imply that they have reached a durable solution. In Sri Lanka, it appears that many returnees in the north had not reached a durable solution as of October 2011, but remained in need of assistance and protection.

The main sources for internal displacement figures in Sri Lanka are government figures as published in the monthly Joint Humanitarian Updates (JHUs) and the Common Humanitarian Action Plans (CHAPs), both issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA). In addition, estimates of numbers of IDPs in Sri Lanka can be found in news articles and NGO reports.

Based on available information, IDMC estimates that as of 31 December 2011

  • more than 95,000 people (more than 54,000 “old” and more than 41,000 “new” IDPs) remained in displacement in Sri Lanka as a result of the armed conflict that ended in May 2009 and
  • more than 421,000 people (more than 201,000 “old” and more than 222,000 “new” IDPs) had returned.
However, the fact that people have returned to their homes does not necessarily imply that they have reached a durable solution. In Sri Lanka, it appears that many returnees in the north had not reached a durable solution as of October 2011, but remained in need of assistance and protection.

“New” IDPs
More than 6,700 “new” IDPs were staying in the Menik Farm temporary camp. In addition, more than 34,000 were living with host families. As a result, over 41,000 “new” IDPs remained in displacement. More than 223,000 had returned to their homes, where many remained in need of protection and assistance (UN OCHA, 26 January 2012, p.1; UN OCHA, 22 November 2011, p.1).

“Old” IDPs
Among “old” IDPs, more than 197,000 had returned, while more than 7,500 were staying in camps and more than 46,000 with host families, meaning that more than 54,000 “old” IDPs were still living in displacement (UN OCHA, 26 January 2012, p.1; UN OCHA, 22 November 2011, p.1).

The “old” IDPs and returnees included more than 70,000 people displaced because their home areas had been declared part of High Security Zones (HSZ), and between 60,000 and 100,000 Muslims who were forced from their homes by the LTTE in 1990 and who were staying in Puttalam district (Raheem, 4 November 2009; UNHCR, 31 March 2010, p.6; NRC, 21 June 2010, p.2; GoSL, 5 December 2009). It remains unclear how many among each sub-group had returned and how many were still displaced as of December 2011. It was reported that a “significant number” of Muslim IDPs who had returned to Mannar had gone back to Puttalam after a short period of time, presumably because conditions for reintegration were not in place there (UN OCHA, 24 June 2011, pp.1-2).

IDMC Report: "SRI LANKA: IDPs and returnees remain in need of protection and
assistance"January 14, 2011

 

Sources

Government of Sri Lanka, 5 December 2009, Displaced Muslims to be resettled - Minister Bathiudeen

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), 21 June 2010, Protracted Muslim IDPs from Jaffna in Puttalam and their Right to Choose a Durable Solution

Raheem, Mirak, 4 November 2009, The Other Half of the IDP Problem: The Old IDPs

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Policy Development and Evaluation Service (PDES), 31 March 2010, Banking on solutions: A real-time evaluation of UNHCR’s shelter grant programme for returning displaced people in northern Sri Lanka

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), 24 June 2011, Joint Humanitarian and Early Recovery Update May 2011 - Report #32

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), 22 November 2011, Joint Humanitarian and Early Recovery Update October 2011 - Report #37

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), 24 January 2012, Joint Humanitarian and Early Recovery Update November-December 2011 - Report #38