Exploring post-war asylum experiences among Sri Lankan Tamils in the UK
asylum after war
Subject Categories::L380 Political Sociology
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AbstractIn a rush to leave their homeland and seek sanctuary, asylum seekers face substantial difficulties in proving or providing documentation for their asylum claim. Usually, the only ‘proof’ asylum seekers can rely on is their oral testimony, from which decision makers determine the need for asylum protection. With the end of armed conflict in 2009, Sri Lankan Tamil refugees and asylum seekers (especially those living in the West) experienced pressure and anxiety about their legal status in their host countries. This thesis aims to explore the perspectives and experiences of Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers under this post-war context. The research aims to explore how a sample of UK-based Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers have experienced their asylum journey since the end of the 2009 war in Sri Lanka. The purpose of this thesis is to focus particularly on the asylum process, that is how asylum seekers reaching host countries under post-war contexts interpret the meaning and understanding of the asylum system and their experiences of this process. This thesis does not aim to understand the asylum system, but to highlight how the marginalized groups understand this system from their ‘lived’ experiences. After gaining ethical approval from the University and consent from participants, in-depth semistructured interviews and diary writing were utilized to carry out research with 14 asylum seekers. Results: The participants of this study narrated their post war experience as ‘nothing has changed’ denoting they face continued oppression, persecution, violence despite the end of the war. The continued violence forced the participants to seek asylum in UK. This research identifies the difficulties, barriers and challenges experienced by the asylum seekers as they adapt to the asylum process in the host country. The interviews and diaries were analysed thematically, highlighting a range of dominant themes such as mistrust, credibility, social bonds, and language, which are explored further within this thesis. Overall, the participants responded that the UK asylum system (the Home Office, judges and others handling the asylum cases) treated them as less credible, bogus, criminals, unworthy, liars and system abusers. The participants also experienced a lack of knowledge, professionalism and human empathy among the officials who handle the cases. The participants further concluded that the asylum system approaches the applicants with prejudices, limited country profile knowledge and, ironically, with a decision made even before conducting the interview. The research results also indicate that, despite the end of the war, the participants experienced traumatic situations in both their country of origin and their host nation. The research demonstrates that the common understanding of the particular social group does not match with the asylum seekers’ experiences, and hence more empirical investigations are needed in this area to remove this (mis)understanding. The findings of the study recommend strong changes in the procedural, attitudinal, professional, and humanitarian approach while handling such vulnerable groups and proposed recommendations for the immigration system dealing with this population, along with recommendations for future research.
CitationGeoffray, R. (2023) 'Exploring Post-War Asylum Experiences Among Sri Lankan Tamils in the UK'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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