Britain maintains warning against travel to Sri Lanka’s North and East

[TamilNet, Friday, 03 July 2009, 12:31 GMT]
Updating its travel advisory Wednesday, Britain warned its nationals “against all travel to the north and east of Sri Lanka, and to Yala National Park and the areas around it.” The new advisory was issued with an update on new surveillance measures at Bandaranayake International Airport related to A (H1N1) Swine Flu.

A statement by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said:

“For the purpose of this travel advice we consider the north to be all areas north of the A12 road (which runs from Puttalam in the west to Trincomalee in the east) including the Jaffna peninsula. We consider the east to be the districts of Trincomalee and Batticaloa, as well as coastal areas of Ampara district east of the A25 and A27 roads . We define the areas around Yala National Park as those east of the A2 and south of the A4. See the Terrorism and Local Travel sections of this advice for more details.”

Noting that “the government of Sri Lanka's security legislation provides wide-ranging discretionary powers,” the statement urged nationals to be careful.

“There have been detentions, particularly of people of Tamil ethnicity, including foreign nationals. You should avoid wearing or carrying clothing or goods which are military or camouflaged in appearance. You should ensure that you carry some form of official identification with you at all times.”

“If you are detained, you should ask the authorities to contact the British High Commission,” the statement said.

“Commercial flights in and out of Jaffna are not suitable for tourist travel due to intense security and frequent cancellations of flights leaving the city. The A9 road, which runs east from Jaffna, is closed and there is currently no overland route from Jaffna to the south of the island.”

Amongst the general warnings about traveling about in the rest of the island, the statement noted: “Buses are generally badly maintained and bus drivers often have little or no training. Bus crashes are a regular occurrence.”

“Women, in particular, should be wary of travelling on their own in a rickshaw at night,” it also cautioned.

“Emergency medical treatment in Sri Lanka is not easily available outside main cities, and you may have to be brought to Colombo for treatment. Medical facilities are not always of a standard expected in the UK, particularly outside Colombo. Treatment in private hospitals can be expensive and the options for repatriation to the UK or neighbouring countries in an emergency are limited and very expensive,” the statement said.


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