The families living in Jaffna's Welfare Centres are categorized as long-term displaced, with the earliest displacement taking place in 1983, and families first arriving in the Welfare Centres in 1984. Since then, most of their 'places of origin' were declared - and currently remain - as high security zones (HSZ), so no return has yet been possible.
The tsunami in December 2004 and the resulting massive displacement and devastation caused on coastal areas of the country drew mass media attention and funding to the populations affected by that disaster. Four of the Centres surveyed had received tsunami funding.
However, the renewal of hostilities in August 2006 led to the closure of the A9 highway that linked Jaffna to the rest of the island. Since then access to Jaffna has been severely restricted.
Prior to August 2006, the long-term displaced had developed coping mechanisms that allowed for a reasonable standard of living. The closure of the A9 and subsequent loss of access to markets, coupled with the loss of livelihoods (fertile farm land and coastal/fishing areas are within the HSZs) has severely impacted on the Jaffna population.
As part of its partnership project with UNHCR, Danish Refugee Council opened a sub-office in Jaffna in March 2007 and undertook an assessment of the Jaffna Welfare Centres, to gain a better picture of the situation.
Assessments began in May 2007 and were completed in late July. By prior agreement, the DRC teams covered 57 Welfare Centres in the divisions of Chankanai, Kopay, Nallur, Sandilipay, Tellipalai and Uduvil while the UNHCR team covered the 12 Welfare Centres in Karaveddy, Maruthankerny and Point Pedro (See maps in Appendices II and III). The 2-member teams (1 male and 1 female) spent an average of 1.5 days at each Welfare Centre to collect and verify data. Teams met with a number of IDPs from each location, seeking to get as broad a representation of age and gender as possible, and trying to include at least one representative of each Centre's IDP Committee, if one existed. They also interviewed special cases, vulnerable individuals and talked with many families as they walked through the Centres.