U.S. RELAXES SRI LANKA TRAVEL ADVISORY
The U.S. Department of State has issued a “revised”
travel advisory for Americans in Sri Lanka to, “reflect
improving security conditions in the country,” according
to the U.S. Embassy in Colombo.
At the same time, Japan relaxed its, “Travel
Advisory & Warning,” for Sri Lanka to a “Travel
Caution,” also noting the improved security situation.
The United Kingdom revised its own travel warning
in July 2009.
Additionally, the Government of Sri Lanka lifted
restrictions on those living in the northern city of Jaffna to
travel throughout Sri Lanka, a security measure that was imposed
during the conflict with the LTTE terrorist group. The LTTE was
headquartered in northern Sri Lanka.
The Government also lifted the requirement that
lorries must register in order to transit goods between the north
and south. It said that such registration was no longer necessary.
The State Department’s decision comes exactly
six months after Sri Lankan Government forces defeated the LTTE.
No terrorist incidents have occurred in Sri Lanka since then,
and tourism arrivals have jumped substantially. The Government
expects to attract 2.5 million Tourists in 2010.
In its revised travel warning, the State Department
states: “Stability in the southern and western areas of
the country has improved with the cessation of hostilities. The
Department of State urges U.S. citizens to remain vigilant while
traveling in Sri Lanka.”
The State Department does continue to note that
landmines are buried throughout northern Sri Lanka. The Government
of Sri Lanka has launched a widespread de-mining effort there.
There are an estimated 1.5 million landmines
and unexploded ordnance in northern Sir Lanka, and Government
forces have continued to unearth buried LTTE weapons caches. But
no terrorist incidents have occurred.
More than 288,000 civilians, mostly from the
north, were initially displaced by the conflict and then housed
in Government-run welfare centers. As de-mining has advanced,
a massive resettlement campaign has begun.
As of Nov. 20, 2009, more than half of those
displaced civilians had been sent home. The Government has pledged
to return most of the displaced by Jan. 31, 2010. About 135,000
people remain in the centers today.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
20 November 2009