Who we help in Sri Lanka

This is a summary of the services offered by UNHCR in Sri Lanka.


The terms asylum-seeker and refugee are often confused: An asylum-seeker is someone who says he or she is a refugee, but whose claim has not been definitely evaluated.

Asylum-seekers of non-Sri Lankan origin may approach the UNHCR Representation Office in Colombo to submit their claim for consideration. The time taken for processing of applications can be lengthy and this should be taken into consideration as well as the fact that asylum-seekers are not supported by the organization in any way during the evaluation of their claim.

Asylum-seekers are issued with a UNHCR Sri Lanka certificate which is renewed every three months.

Information note for asylum seekers and refugees in Sri Lanka


The 1951 Refugee Convention spells out that a refugee is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”

Claims of asylum-seekers who undergo the Refugee Status Determination (RSD) process and are identified as refugees and in turn will be supported by UNHCR until their resettlement.

Refugees are issued with a UNHCR Sri Lanka certificate which is renewed monthly.

Voluntary Repatriation of Sri Lankan Refugees

UNHCR in Sri Lanka works with other global UNHCR offices to assist the voluntary return of Sri Lankan refugees from other countries as well as directly with refugees who do not have a UNHCR office in their country. If you are thinking of returning back to Sri Lanka, please refer the document below.

Helping Sri Lankan Refugees (PDF file)