New Zealanders told to avoid non-essential travel to Sri Lanka

New Zealanders have been told to avoid non-essential travel to Sri Lanka due to the impacts of the economic crisis and the potential for civil unrest.

An updated travel advisory issued by New Zealand today notes:

Sri Lanka’s economic situation has deteriorated significantly in recent months. This has led to shortages of such basic necessities, causing long queues in a range of shops, including supermarkets, petrol stations and pharmacies. There is a critical shortage of fuel (diesel and petrol). There may be significant difficulties or delays obtaining fuel, food deliveries, taxis, ride share services and public transport as well as delays in accessing emergency services, due to fuel shortages. Travellers should ensure they have transport plans and contingency plans in place ahead of any journeys to or around Sri Lanka. Local authorities have also imposed rationing of electricity, which has resulted in lengthy power outages.

There have recently been large protests, demonstrations and political rallies relating to Sri Lanka’s economic and political crisis. There is an increased police and military presence in the streets, especially around queues. There has also been some violence at some queuing sites.

More generally, there have also been multiple incidents of violent clashes in public places around Sri Lanka in the past few months, resulting in a number of deaths and hospitalisations – as well as destruction of property, including the burning of houses Police have used tear gas and water cannons to disperse certain demonstrations and violent situations, and authorities have imposed states of emergency and curfews at short notice.

We advise New Zealanders in Sri Lanka to avoid protests, demonstrations, rallies, large crowds and queues. Comply with any instructions issued by the local authorities, including any curfews. Monitor local and international media, review personal security plans and be aware of your surroundings. If unexpectedly in the vicinity of a protest, demonstration or violent clashes, exercise caution and leave the area quickly. (Colombo Gazette)