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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06CHENNAI1746 2006-08-04 11:35:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Consulate Chennai
Cable title:  

REFUGEE INFLOW INCREASES AS FIGHTING ESCALATES IN

Tags:   PGOV PINR PREF IN 
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VZCZCXRO0592
RR RUEHBI RUEHCI
DE RUEHCG #1746/01 2161135
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 041135Z AUG 06
FM AMCONSUL CHENNAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9321
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1863
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 4826
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA 0568
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 1242
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CHENNAI 001746 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREF IN
SUBJECT: REFUGEE INFLOW INCREASES AS FIGHTING ESCALATES IN
SRI LANKA

REF: A) Chennai 1426 B) Chennai 956



1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The number of Sri Lankan refugees reaching
Tamil Nadu shores continues to accelerate. From a total of
304 refugee arrivals in January the number has grown to
1,892, taking the total number of arrivals in 2006 to 5,799.
Escalated fighting on the island and the welcome signal
extended by the Tamil Nadu government by doubling the
refugee dole may prompt even more people to cross over to
Tamil Nadu in the coming days. Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu's
small pro-LTTE parties are trying to pressure the GOI
through the DMK to refrain from offering any assistance to
the Government of Sri Lanka in the conflict. End Summary



--------------------------


REFUGEE NUMBERS ON THE RISE


--------------------------





2. (SBU) Although the current refugee influx from Sri Lanka
to Tamil Nadu is much smaller than the previous waves in
1983, 1990 and 1995, the numbers are on the increase. The
total arrivals this year is 5,799 including 783 children.
The refugees belong to 1,781 families and come mostly from
the Trincomalee area. Following are the monthly arrivals
since the beginning of 2006:

January: 304
February: 193
March: 70
April: 43
May: 1457
June: 1750
July: 1982



3. (SBU) According to Chandrahasan, founder of refugee NGO,
Organization for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfFERR), the
numbers are likely to go up in the wake of intensified
fighting between the LTTE and Sri Lankan forces.
Chandrahasan told us the Government of Sri Lanka is doing
everything possible to prevent people from crossing over to
India, but fear of getting caught in the crossfire prompts
people to risk the boat journey through the choppy sea.
Chandrahasan believes that Tamil Nadu could accommodate many
more, "may be another 50,000," but the resources at the
camps are meager. He believes that in the unlikely event of
the numbers swelling beyond "tolerable limits," the police
might seize boats and detain boat operators, discouraging
people from coming over.



--------------------------


TAMIL NADU'S GESTURE SENDS WELCOME SIGNAL


--------------------------





4. (SBU) As of now, the Government of Tamil Nadu's (GoTN's)
signal to the refugees is that they are welcome. The GoTN's
announcement as part of its July 22 budget message that it
will double the dole to the Sri Lankan refugees came as a
relief in the camps. According to the decision, the GoTN
will chip in extra money to increase the dole already
provided to each refugee by the GOI. Heads of the family
will now receive Rupees 400 ($8.5) per month and family
members will receive amounts ranging from Rupees 144 ($3) to
Rupees 45 (approx. $1). Additionally, the GOI continues to
provide rice at nominal prices.



--------------------------


LTTE'S TAMIL NADU FRIENDS STEP UP PRESSURE


--------------------------





5. (SBU) Meanwhile, the small pro-LTTE parties of Tamil Nadu
have criticized the GOI for providing training in Tamil Nadu
to Sri Lankan "security forces." According to local news
reports, both the MDMK and the PMK parties have criticized
the Central Police Reserve Force (CRPF) for providing
training to 44 Sri Lankan police personnel in Tamil Nadu.
Chief Minister Karunanidhi informed the Tamil Nadu Assembly
that the state is not involved in the police training, and
he expressed hope that the GOI would consider the
sensitivity of the training issue. In an effort to deflate
the same issue, Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner PM Amza
explained to the Chennai press corps that the program is
ongoing police training rather than any sort of military
training.



6. (SBU) Separately, The New Indian Express reported on
August 3 that MDMK General Secretary Vaiko asked Prime
Minister Singh not to provide security to a Sri Lankan Navy

CHENNAI 00001746 002 OF 002


ship transporting personnel to the war zone. Vaiko was
quoted as saying in a letter to the Prime Minister: "It has
come to my knowledge that Sri Lankan President Mahinda
Rajapakse has appealed to the Indian Prime Minister to
provide Indian naval escort and assistance to help and
protect the ship."



--------------------------



--------------------------


RESPECTING DMK'S SENSITIVIES, GOI WILL BE GUARDED


--------------------------



--------------------------





8. (SBU) COMMENT: The smaller, pro-LTTE parties of Tamil
Nadu seem to be pressuring Tamil Nadu Chief Minister
Karunanidhi, who has a history of being sympathetic to the
Sri Lankan Tamils, to use his influence to restrain India
from providing any form of assistance to the GoSL in the
conflict. Karunanidhi, who up to now has been careful to
avoid any differences with the Center on the Sri Lanka
issue, is also eager not to let his government be
embarrassed by the pro-Eelam politicians. From our
perspective in south India, we expect that the UPA
government at the Center will understand the sensitivities
of its DMK coalition partner and will keep away from any
controversial intervention in the Sri Lankan conflict. End
Comment.

HOPPER