Reconsider your need to travel to Sri Lanka !

Safety and Security

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.

Civil Unrest/Political Tension

We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Sri Lanka at this time because of ongoing civil unrest, the volatile security situation and the very high risk of further attacks by the LTTE. There have been attacks against aid workers. Attacks occur frequently and further attacks can happen at any time, anywhere in Sri Lanka, including the south. Australians could inadvertently become victims of violence directed at others.
Tensions between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are high. There has been a significant escalation in the number of serious incidents of politically motivated violence, including in tourist areas in the centre and south of the country. On 2 January 2008, the Government of Sri Lanka announced it would withdraw from the ceasefire agreement it signed in 2002 with the LTTE. The security situation could deteriorate further without warning.
You should pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media and other local information sources for information about possible new safety or security risks.
On 27 November 2006, the LTTE indicated that it would pursue an independent state through renewed struggle rather than negotiation. Road access to the north of the country, including to Jaffna, has been restricted because of intermittent fighting at Muhamalai. A State of Emergency was declared by the Government of Sri Lanka on 13 August 2005 following the assassination of the Foreign Minister and remains in effect. The State of Emergency gives additional powers to security forces including the authority to establish road blocks and impose curfews. Further powers were given to the security forces under emergency regulations introduced in December 2006.
Air and ground attacks in late 2007 in areas held by the LTTE escalated the conflict in the north. On 2 November 2007, the LTTE announced that the leader of its political wing was killed in an aerial attack by the Sri Lanka Air Force. These events may increase the risk of further attacks by the LTTE in any part of Sri Lanka, including Colombo.
On 5 December 2007, 15 civilians on a public bus in North Central Province were killed and 23 injured in a roadside bomb attack.
On 28 November 2007, an explosion in a clothing shop in a Colombo suburb killed 20 civilians and injured 34. These attacks appear to have targeted civilians. Also on 28 November 2007, a suicide bombing at a government ministry in central Colombo killed two people and injured a further two. On 2 January 2008, a roadside bomb targeting a military bus killed four people and injured 23 in central Colombo. The majority of those killed and injured were civilians. On 8 January 2008, a Sri Lankan government minister was killed and 10 civilians injured in a roadside bomb attack targeting the minister’s convoy. The attack took place on the road between Colombo’s international airport and the city centre. A second blast occurred in a phone booth near major hotels in the Fort district and the headquarters of the Sri Lankan Air Force headquarters.
Although tourists have not been targets of politically motivated violence, the LTTE have undertaken attacks at locations frequented by tourists, including the international airport in Colombo and the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. There has been a significant escalation in the number of serious incidents of politically motivated violence throughout Sri Lanka, including in tourist areas in the centre and south. On 22 October 2007, the LTTE launched a ground and air attack on the Sri Lanka Air Force base at Anuradhapura, near the popular tourism facilities in the cultural triangle. The attack killed over 30 people and destroyed several military aircraft. Several bombs were reportedly dropped on the base during the attack. On 15 October 2007, the LTTE attacked a military camp located in Yala National Park, a popular tourist location, killing eight people. On 16 October 2007, a military vehicle hit a landmine in Yala National Park in Southern Province killing one and injuring three people.
Attacks could occur at any time and in any place, including infrastructure associated with the Sri Lankan Government such as military establishments, public transport, airports, sea ports, oil depots and public buildings, as well as political offices of anti-LTTE Tamil organisations. Nearby locations could sustain collateral damage. Potentially affected locations also include shopping malls, clubs, hotels, restaurants, bars, movie theatres, schools, places of worship, embassies, tourist areas (including national parks), markets and outdoor recreation areas, major sporting events and religious festivals.
Events of political significance, including elections, could be catalysts for violence and civil unrest. You should avoid all demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent.
You should be particularly vigilant on and around anniversaries and days of national significance such as May Day (1 May), Vesak (which falls in May), the Kandy Esela Perahara Festival (which falls in August), Heroes week (late November), the Tamil and Sinhala New Year festivals (13-14 April), the anniversary of the 2002 cessations of hostilities (22 February) and of the first LTTE suicide bombing (5 July), as militants have in the past used such occasions to mount attacks. Security forces discovered an explosive device and components for an explosive device in central Colombo in early October 2007. On 23 August 2007 police arrested five men for allegedly planning an attack on the Kandy Esela Perahara Festival. There were further arrests on 26 August 2007 following the recovery of an unexploded bomb on a street in Kandy.
On 28 May 2007 a bomb blast near a Sri Lankan Air Force base south of Colombo killed at least seven civilians and injured more than 35 other people, including Sri Lankan Police personnel. On 29 April 2007 Tamil Tiger aircraft bombed the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) base at Ratmalana and an oil refinery in Colombo. On 26 April 2007 the Bandaranaike International Airport near the capital Colombo and its access roads were temporarily closed when Sri Lankan troops at the nearby SLAF base at Katunayeke fired anti-aircraft guns following reports a Tamil Tiger aircraft was in the area. The LTTE launched aerial attacks on the SLAF base on 26 March 2007, forcing the temporary closure of Bandaranaike International Airport, and on the SLAF base at Palali, Jaffna on 23 April 2007, killing armed forces personnel. The Sri Lankan Government has warned more aerial attacks could occur, including, but not limited to, in the High Security Zone in Colombo 1 and 2 suburbs and parts of Colombo 3 suburb where a number of international hotels are located.
You should avoid anti-aircraft batteries and their immediate surroundings, including high-rise buildings, especially during blackouts. New batteries have been established in central Colombo in areas frequented by tourists, including hotels. . In the event of anti-aircraft fire you should stay indoors in a secure location because of the risk of falling projectiles and shrapnel. You should also avoid travelling at night time when anti-aircraft fire is more likely to occur. On 29 April 2007, 14 people were injured and buildings were damaged after anti-aircraft weapons were fired over Colombo.
In the event of a Sri Lankan Government-enforced security related blackout, Australian government officials have been advised to avoid anti-aircraft batteries and their surroundings, including tall buildings and to take cover in a secured area for protection against projectiles, likely to be on the ground floor of an internal room with solid concrete walls and ceiling and no, or limited, windows. If unable to leave a tall building, they have been advised to take cover in an inner room with solid walls using heavy furniture for additional overhead protection. They have been further advised to stay indoors for at least one hour after the cessation of firing of any anti-aircraft guns.
Due to the on-going conflict, the SLAF base at Katunayeke could be targeted at any time. The co-located international airport could be closed without warning and commercial aircraft could be at risk, particularly at night. In light of the increased threat, some airlines have suspended flights to Colombo or changed flight schedules suspending commercial late night flights. We recommend you contact your airline to confirm flight details.
Recent reports indicate that terrorists may be planning suicide attacks against the headquarters of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) in Sir Chitampalam A Gardiner Mawatha in central Colombo and the main SLAF fighter wing at Katunayake, collocated with Bandaranaike International Airport, the country’s main international airport.
Truck bombings could occur at any time in any part of Sri Lanka. You should exercise extreme caution, maintain high personal security awareness and avoid locations known to be targeted by terrorists in Sri Lanka. On 24 July 2007 a roadside bomb targeting a military bus in Mannar district killed nine soldiers. On 24 May 2007 a road side bomb targeting a military bus was detonated in the Fort Area of the Colombo 15 suburb near the port and naval base, killing one soldier and injuring several others, including civilians.
We are aware of media reports that the High Security Zone Residents’ Liberation Force (HSZRLF) has threatened to attack civilian targets in the south including hospitals and dams. The Ellalan Force, which claimed responsibility for the bombing of civilian buses on 5 and 6 January 2007, issued a statement on 21 January threatening further attacks.
Northern areas (including Wilpattu National Park): We advise you not to travel to the north of Sri Lanka, including the area north of the highway between Puttalam, Anuradhapura and Polonaruwa and Wilpattu National Park. An explosion in Wilpattu National Park in May 2006 killed seven visitors. The Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE have engaged in significant battles in the area between Mannar and Omanthai near Vavuniya, as well as Muhamalai in Jaffna. In October 2007, the government began a new offensive against LTTE positions north of Giant Tank near Adampan in Mannar district.
East and south-eastern areas (including Yala National Park): We advise you not to travel east of Pollonaruwa town on the A11 road or to points east of a straight line between Polonaruwa town and the South Coast, passing through Badulla including Yala National Park. On 16 October 2007, the LTTE attacked an army camp in Panama in Ampara district in the east. A day earlier, the LTTE attacked a military camp in Yala National Park in Southern Province near Hambantota. Eight people were killed. Vehicles travelling in Yala National Park hit landmines in October and November 2007. Vehicles have reportedly been attacked with improvised explosive devices in the vicinity of Yala National Park and Kataragama in the South-East.
There have been incidents of violence against aid workers. On 20 August 2007, a member of the Danish Demining Group was shot dead in Jaffna, while his co-worker was injured. On 23 June 2007 an aid worker with the Danish Refugee Council was shot dead in Jaffna. On 2 June 2007, two volunteer Red Cross workers were abducted from a train station and murdered. On 13 June 2007, an expatriate aid worker with Mercy Corps was shot on a beach at the Club Oceanic Hotel in Trincomalee.
The Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE have engaged in significant battles in Mannar district between Adampan and Madhu, as well as near Omanthai in Vavuniya district and in the general vicinity of Trincomalee. In November 2007, the Government of Sir Lanka attempted to breach the LTTE’s defences in Jaffna. Military strikes have also occurred in the Batticaloa, Ampara, Mannar, Mulaitivu, Killinochchi and Hambantota districts. Travellers have inadvertently been caught up in these actions. An attack on a passenger train on 6 June 2007 in Batticaloa district derailed several carriages and caused injuries to a number of civilians. A passenger train was attacked with an improvised bomb on 18 December 2007 in Trincomalee, causing no injuries.
Reports indicate a pro-government Tamil paramilitary faction has threatened aid workers operating in Eastern Province.
If you are already in the “Do Not Travel” areas described above, including the Wilpattu or Yala National Parks, and concerned for your safety, you should consider departing if it is safe to do so. Politically motivated violence including assassinations, bombings in public places and on roads is escalating and there is widespread civil unrest. Communal and inter-ethnic tensions in these regions are very high and further violence is highly likely, particularly between Muslim communities on the east coast and pro-government Tamil paramilitaries.

Crime

There is a danger of kidnapping for ransom of foreign nationals in Sri Lanka, including in Colombo. All Australians in Sri Lanka, particularly those of Sri Lankan Tamil origin, should ensure that appropriate identification is carried at all times.
Violent crime continues to increase, including sexual assault and robbery. Policing in remote areas is often hampered by a lack of resources and poor infrastructure.
There have been incidents of violence against aid workers. On 2 June 2007, two volunteer Red Cross workers were abducted from a train station and murdered. On 13 June 2007, an expatriate aid worker with Mercy Corps was shot on a beach at the Club Oceanic Hotel in Trincomalee.
Petty crime such as pick-pocketing and bag snatching occurs, particularly on public transport.

Local Travel

Due to the volatile security situation in Sri Lanka, Australian government officials and dependants have been advised to limit travel (particularly at night), maintain a high degree of awareness at roadblocks and checkpoints and avoid using public transport. Australian diplomatic and consular staff have also been advised to exercise heightened security vigilance, avoid travel to locations that may be potential targets and curtail all non-essential travel. Anti-aircraft batteries and their immediate surroundings, including high-rise buildings, should also be avoided. In the event of anti-aircraft fire you should stay indoors in a secure location because of the risk of falling projectiles and shrapnel.
Security personnel may impose curfews, roadblocks and security checks at short notice across the country, and may require proof of identification, such as your current passport.
There can be lengthy delays when travelling to the airport as a result of checkpoints established by the security forces. Sections of the road to the airport are occasionally closed at night, requiring all traffic to be diverted along narrow local roads. Travellers should allow adequate time for security checks on the road to the airport and maintain a high degree of security vigilance if diverted from the main road along the narrow local road system.
Check points between government held areas and “uncleared areas”, (i.e. areas controlled by the LTTE) including on the main A-9 highway which links the north and south of the country, can be closed without notice. The checkpoint at Muhamalai, the entry point to Jaffna, has been closed since 11 August.
Transport conditions throughout Sri Lanka are hazardous. There are a high number of road deaths and injuries, particularly on inter-city buses and three-wheeler taxis. The standard of driving and vehicle maintenance is poor. There have been a number of fatal accidents on Sri Lankan railways in recent years.
Marked and unmarked landmines are widespread in parts of the north and east, especially in Vanni, Jaffna and along the A9 road in the north.
On 28 December 2005 the Government of Sri Lanka announced arrangements for foreigners seeking to enter the uncleared areas of the north and east which are presently under LTTE control. Foreign staff of diplomatic missions, international organisations and international non-government organisations accredited with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be allowed to cross entry and exit checkpoints into uncleared areas without restriction. All other foreigners must seek approval from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence before being allowed to enter uncleared areas. For advice on the location of uncleared areas, you can contact the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence on telephone number (+94 11) 243 3215.
Road access between Jaffna and the rest of Sri Lanka has been closed since 11 August 2006. The LTTE has refused to guarantee the safety of shipping in waters around Jaffna. On 9 November 2006, LTTE Sea Tigers attacked Sri Lankan Navy ships escorting a passenger ferry from Trincomalee to Jaffna. The LTTE launched a suicide attack against a cargo vessel in Jaffna on 21 January 2006. Australians in Jaffna who wish to depart should do so by air.
The waters around the northern and eastern coast of Sri Lanka are declared restricted zones by the Government of Sri Lanka. Government security forces have fired upon unauthorised vessels in coastal areas. In September 2006 a vessel was destroyed in waters beyond the territorial sea.
Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of Sri Lanka. The LTTE hi-jacked a Jordanian cargo vessel off the north-east coast in December 2006. See our travel advice on shipping and ports for more information. The International Maritime Bureau issues weekly piracy reports on its website.

Airline Safety

Due to the on-going conflict, the SLAF base at Katunayeke could be targeted at any time. The co-located international airport could be closed without warning and commercial aircraft could be at risk, particularly at night. We recommend you contact your airline to confirm flight details.
Passengers on international flights to and from Australia are only allowed to carry a small amount of liquids (including aerosols and gels) in their carry-on baggage. You can find out more information at the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government website. Similar restrictions apply to flights in an increasing number of countries. Contact your airline for further information.
If you have concerns about the safety standards of a particular airline or aircraft, we recommend you research the airline or aircraft through organisations such as Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government has published fact sheets on security for air travellers. When staff at Australia’s overseas missions are advised not to use particular airlines due to safety concerns this will be included in travel advice.
The European Union (EU) has published a list of airlines that are subject to operating bans or restrictions within the EU. The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through its foreign assessment program focuses on a country’s ability, not the individual airline, to adhere to international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance established by ICAO.
source:
http://joyceheyzer.spaces.live.com/Blog/cns!79F27886F50B9A13!1961.entry?wa=
wsignin1.0

1 Response to “Reconsider your need to travel to Sri Lanka !”


  • …Brave, hardy Aussie Surfers!
    And the rest of the world used to believe in you.
    The only difference is that years ago there was no Internet blogs like this one and silly foreign office travel advise:
    And at least the surfing Community did what they want to do:
    Get out there, surf and form your own opinion, mates!
    There is NO safe place anywhere these days!
    Sri Lanka, and specially the peaceful, ultra-quiet East Coast is totally SAFE considering all relevant factors; so is Aragum Bay of course.

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