Profile: A Sri Lankan family. The father is in Australia; his wife and children are still in Sri Lanka.
Risk: If returned to Sri Lanka, persecution to the point of making life intolerable is the best outcome. The more likely outcome is being "disappeared" by the Sri Lankan military &/or death. If he remains in Australia, any hope of being reunited with his family is lost.
Advantages: He was recognized as a refugee by the UNHCR in 2011. A church in Australia is prepared to raise all the required settlement support.
Seeking: A congregation willing to help a Christian family of 5 resettle in their community.
Philip lived on a small island in Sri Lanka with his wife and children. Due to the civil war, his island was under navy control. A few times each week, Philip would travel to the mainland to attend church and church meetings. The navy questioned Philip about his routine and accused him of being associated with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – which was untrue.
The navy ordered Philip not to leave the island again. They also told him he had to report to the navy camp every day. When Philip reported to the camp, he would be taken inside and tortured. Philip is a fisherman by trade and earned money by selling the fish he caught. The navy began taking all of his catch and beating him on the beach. This made it difficult for Philip to earn money and provide for his family. The situation got worse as time went on.
Fearing for his life, Philip and his wife decided it would be best for him to flee the island. So in 2009, Philip fled Sri Lanka for his life as a Tamil refugee. He hasn't seen his wife and children since that day so long ago. After trying to find a safe home in Malaysia and Indonesia, Philip's journey took him to Australia. Philip boarded a boat, and after a treacherous three-day journey, he and the other passengers landed in Australia in late 2011.
The Current Situation
Philip was initially accepted as a refugee in Australia. But when the Australian Government changed in 2013, they made hard line changes regarding refugees coming to Australia by boat.
The Australian Government made changes to the policy regarding Tamil people based on the Sri Lankan government's official policy that the civil war finished and it is now safe for Tamil people to return to Sri Lanka. However many reliable sources recognise that it is still unsafe for Tamil refugees who face the risk of being subjected to torture if they return. There are also reports of Tamil people disappearing.
Philip's wife, who still lives in Sri Lanka, fears for his life if he returns. A lawyer has advised Philip that his only hope of ever being reunited with his family would be for him to be sponsored to Canada.
Who are we?
The 'Philip to Canada Project' is a group of brothers and sisters in Christ from Perth, Western Australia. Many of us know Philip through the church he has been attending for several years. He is a faithful and warm-hearted man in spite of the struggles he has faced. We are deeply moved by his situation.