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Keywords:

  • civil conflicts;
  • conflict-induced displacement;
  • coping strategies;
  • cross-sectional data;
  • internally displaced persons;
  • Sri Lanka

This paper investigates how internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, financed their first year of displacement. We conducted extensive fieldwork in August 2007 in numerous welfare centres in Batticaloa that have received persons displaced from the Mutur divisional secretariat (DS) in the Trincomalee district. The sample was selected from the village of Sampur in Mutur DS. The displaced from Sampur are of Tamil origin and our findings reveal certain coping strategies that may be particular to this community, including the selling or mortgaging of gold jewellery to address the effects of displacement. We found that the IDPs in this region rely heavily on jewellery and other forms of savings to ensure their survival. There is also strong evidence to support the critically important coping role played by livelihoods. These coping strategies have enabled the IDP households in the present sample to live marginally above the poverty line.