The uncertainties caused by the ethnic war in 1983 made disruptions in the normalcy of Sri Lankan Tamils and forced them to experience frequent displacement in and outside the country. The frequent displacements had not only created uncertainties, but also made many to lose their documentation evidences such as birth, marriage and death certificates and paved ways to raise questions over the future of their generations. At the same time, their protracted refugee situation made them being unconscious of the documentation.
OfERR (Ceylon) works in coordination with OfERR to provide support with the essential documentation of refugees in India and refugee/IDP returnees in Sri Lanka. Since the arrival in Tamil Nadu, nearly 24,000 children had born to the parents of the Sri Lankan Tamils living in the camps. Of them, the majority have not registered their birth at the consular office of Sri Lanka in Chennai and therefore, face the risk of being classified as stateless. The reason for their inability to register for the consular birth is that they either lost their documents or unregistered their births, marriages and deaths.
The returnees face enormous difficulties with the absence of their essential documents in hand. Especially, majority couldn’t go further with the absence of citizenship as it is important for returnee registration, resettlement, education and employment purposes. In order to prepare the returnees with essential documents, OfERR (Ceylon) trained the staff on civil documentation and having linkages with civil papers officials at divisional (ADR), district (DR), Provincial (ARG) and National level (RG) in order to access supports from the authorities.
OfERR (Ceylon) process the requests of people with essential documentation on case by case with the concerned authorities and on a mass level by organizing mobile documentation clinics. In this process, OfERR (Ceylon) has assisted over 20,000 refugee returnee/IDP returnees with the essential documents such as birth, marriage, consular birth and citizenship certificates along with NIC, land and other identity documents.
However, the need among the refugee and IDP returnees in terms of essential documents is high. Therefore, OfERR (Ceylon) engages in advocacy with the Ministries, Departments and officials to ease the process of essential documentation and provide extraordinary arrangements to cater the documentation needs of the people.