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Eelam refugees in India brace for coronavirus

Tens of thousands of Eelam Tamil refugees in India are bracing themselves for the fallout of a lockdown and any potential coronavirus outbreaks in the refugee camps that they have been trapped in for decades, wrote Kavitha Muralidharan for Firstpost last week.

At least 54,000 Eelam Tamils live as refugees in 107 camps across Tamil Nadu, she said, including a special camp in Tiruchy that houses ‘offenders’. A further 32,000 Eelam Tamils live outside of camps.

A nationwide curfew has left jobs scarce for many in the camps, who rely on daily work in the region, “forcing them to survive on the limited provisions disbursed by the government,” writes Muralidharan.

Meanwhile conditions in the camps, where many live in 10’X10’ houses “do not offer the luxury of isolation or quarantine for the residents who have returned,” she adds.

“Those in the camps continue to hope that they will pull through the present crisis. “We have survived a war, crossed seas and are living a refugee life,” says Sukumaran. “Covid is only a new dimension to our suffering. We will not allow it to defeat us.””

See her full piece here.