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Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Switzerland

Around 50000 Sri Lankan #Tamil#refugees reside in #Switzerland at present. Most have been driven out of their homes due to the long-drawn civil war and have been living in Switzerland since the 1980s. The Tamil #diaspora is very vocal about refugee rights and champions justice for the atrocities they faced during the Civil War.

The Tamil community in Switzerland is considered one of the best integrated foreign communities, though their economic #integration has been found lacking. Despite being integrated within the job and educational sectors, most of the refugees were pushed towards informal job sectors while they waited for permanent residencies. It was not until 2000 that the change in asylum policies gave Swiss Tamils residential status. Before the 2000s, the Swiss authority did not want to attract Tamils into the country and thus did not recognise many as refugees.

As a result, the younger generation has been integrated into the Swiss community to a greater extent. Nonetheless, the Tamils have maintained aspects of their own culture and have carried their ideas of the caste system and wedding rules to Switzerland. The Tamil cohort that took asylum around the 1980s came from upper and middle-class, land-owning families who had the resources to emigrate from #SriLanka. The second cohort migrating in the 1990s was from the lower strata, which would change the structure of social engagement within the Tamil community. There was also an increase in family reunification, increasing the number of Tamil refugees.

The Tamil refugees have advocated for refugee rights and justice for themselves in Geneva’s office of the UN Human Rights Council. The Swiss government have acknowledged how the successive Sri Lankan government has done nothing to bring justice to its victims and regarded them as “grave violations of human rights suspected to have been committed more than ten years ago”.

With the situation against Sri Lankan not improving in their homeland, many Tamils have accepted that Switzerland will continue to be their home for an unforeseen period.

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