The island nation of Sri Lanka triggered a state of emergency yesterday, after violence erupted across the country.
This has sparked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to issue an alert for British travellers to Sri Lanka.
UK Government has advised travellers to exercise caution when visiting this popular long-haul holiday destination.
The FCO released the following statement: “On 6 March 2018, the Sri Lanka government announced a nationwide state of emergency in response to recent incidents of intern-communal violence in Ampara and Kandy.
As Sri Lanka’s second largest city, Kandy is a tourist hotspot known for its sacred Buddha temples and idyllic botanical gardens.
However, recent riots in the central district between Sinhalese and Muslim communities, following days of unrest, has sparked a state of emergency.
The special measures initially apply for ten days and allow the army to be deployed on the streets to re-inforce calm.
The FCO advise: “The state of emergency may include curfews in specific locations across the country.
“You should exercise caution, avoid protests and rallies, and comply with local security requirements.
The Sri Lankan Ambassador to the UAE, Sulaiman J Mohideen said the state of emergency has a “preventive step taken by the government” to prevent violence further spreading around the country, Gulf News reported.
He also said that the capital of Colombo is not affected, with usual operations continuing to take place including a cricket match between India and Sri Lanka.
In a tweet, the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe commented: “As a nation that endured a brutal war we are all aware of the values of peace, respect, unity & freedom.
“The Govt condemns the racist & violent acts that have taken place over the last few days. A state of emergency has been declared & we will not hesitate to take further action”.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s independence. Since that time, the idyllic Indian Ocean island nation has been trying to rebuild its tourism industry after a 28-year long civil war divided the country apart. The last state of emergency, which was in place throughout the war, ceased in November 2011.
At present, flight services have not been affected. Neither have travel and tour operators.
A spokesperson for TUI commented: “The overall level of FCO advice has not changed and there are currently no travel restrictions within the advice”.
Therefore, at present it is advised to adopt a wait-and-watch approach and contact your travel provider if you have any concerns.
The FCO states: “Most visits to Sri Lanka are trouble-free.”
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