IRB – Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (Autor)
The following information was provided in a
23 May 1996 telephone interview with a community worker from the
South Asia Women's Community Centre. For additional information on
the South Asia Women's Community Centre, please consult the fax
attachment in Response to Information Request LKA19476.E of 9
The source stated that to the best of her
knowledge, she is aware of two forms of social assistance available
to seniors in Colombo, but did not feel she could comment
authoritatively on the general situation of elderly Singhalese in
Sarbothaya is an organization in Colombo
that helps all lower-income groups, including seniors in need, by
providing food, shelter and small sums of money on an infrequent
basis. The organization also has some housing facilities
The government provides a program that is
known as the "purpose allowance" or "poor-related allowance", which
is a monetary stipend given to a senior on the basis of his or her
personal income and savings. The program is not universal and there
is a long waiting list to get on the program. In order to apply for
the government program, the senior must also have a referral from
the assistant government agent, a local government official who is
involved in the daily administration of the district or village in
which the senior lives.
The source stated traditional Sri Lankan
culture is based on the extended family: the elderly parents would
live with and be cared for by their children's families. Due to the
civil unrest, however, there has been a displacement of
individuals, including elderly people who have been separated from
or lost their families. This phenomenon has primarily affected
Tamils living in the north of the country.
The source indicates that unaccompanied
Tamil seniors from Jaffna who have moved to Colombo and been
separated from their families face particular difficulties. They
are without traditional means of family support and, according to
the source, may face discrimination because of their ethnic
background. Elderly Tamils in Colombo are encountering difficulties
in accessing government services because they do not have proper
residency rights nor are they likely to receive the nomination of
local authorities to gain access to these services. These problems
are compounded by language difficulties for elderly Tamil speakers,
which also aids in identifying their ethnicity.
Please find attached an excerpt on elderly
persons in Colombo from a January 1996 report from the Canadian
High Commission in Colombo.
This Response was prepared after
researching publicly accessible information currently available to
the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does
not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular
claim to refugee status or asylum. Corroboration could not be made
in the time constraints available. Please find below the list of
additional sources consulted in researching this Information
South Asia Women's Community Centre,
Montreal. 23 May 1996. Telephone interview with a community
Citizenship and Immigration,
International Services Group (ISG). 24 January 1996. Letter
including report "Conditions for Tamils in Sri Lanka: An Overview",
dated January 1996 from the Canadian High Commission in Colombo, p.
Citizenship and Immigration,
International Services Group (ISG). Infrequent reports from
missions abroad. 1995 to present.
Minority Rights Group International .
Monthly. No. 96/1. Sri Lanka: A Bitter Harvest.
The Sri Lankan Monitor. Sept.
Tamil Information: News Bulletin of
the Tamil Information Centre. Bi-monthly. July 1995-Feb.
Tamil Times. Monthly. Dec.
US Committee for Refugees. Oct. 1991.
Sri Lanka: Island of Refugees.
On-line search of media sources.