“Aid, Conflict, and Migration: the Canada-Sri Lanka Connection”

This paper aims to disentangle patterns of aid, trade, conflict and migration between Canada and Sri Lanka, illustrating the surprisingly significant traffic between the two countries and exploring the significance and quality of these connections. International aid to Sri Lanka is closely related to the opening of markets to multinational investment beginning in 1977. This economic liberalisation overlaps with periods of conflict in Sri Lanka and of macroeconomic growth. The prosperity it has generated, however, has not benefited all social classes and ethnic groups. Accordingly, conflict in Sri Lanka has been characterised by uprisings led by unemployed youth, peaceful and violent protests of discrimination against Sri Lankan Tamils and militarised government reprisals to both. A long period of macroeconomic growth ended in the final quarter of 2001, after the bombing of commercial airliners at Sri Lanka’s international airport. Geopolitical and geoeconomic conditions in Sri Lanka changed dramatically. In this context, Canada’s International Development Agency (CIDA) and other aid agencies aspire to ‘correct for conflict’ and promote a democratic and peaceful Sri Lanka through peace-building and other aid measures. Militarised conflict over at least the past 20 years has generated massive human displacement both within and beyond the country’s borders, spawning international migrants in search of asylum. In 1999, Sri Lanka was the leading source country of refugee claimants to Canada. Canada hosts the single largest Sri Lankan diaspora of any country. By examining the nexus ofeconomic liberalisation and aid, I analyse its relation to conflict in Sri Lanka and migration to Canada. en

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