A year after the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, the country struggles to get everything back in order again. The global outbreak of the coronavirus has also hit Sri Lanka, and the country can ill afford such a crisis.
Terrorist attacks during Easter
On 21 April 2019, a series of terrorist attacks took place in Sri Lanka, in both low populated areas as well as densely populated ones. More than 250 people died, including 45 foreigners. The result of these attacks was that tourism to Sri Lanka drastically reduced. Countries all over the world advised their people against travelling to Sri Lanka. The once popular country was put on a blacklist. As the economy of Sri Lanka heavily relies on tourism, this was a particularly rough blow to the country.
The government of Sri Lanka took concrete steps to guarantee the safety of both the domestic population as well as foreign visitors. This wasn’t without result. The number of travellers to Sri Lanka slowly began to rise again, and Sri Lanka received worldwide praise for how they handled this tragic event. Socially, Sri Lanka was also slowly recovering. Whereas the country used to suffer from sectarian violence, the population now came together to help each other. For a while, it looked as if Sri Lanka had successfully navigated its way through the crisis. But then the coronavirus hit.
Coronavirus in Sri Lanka
Like in so many countries, the coronavirus has also shown up in Sri Lanka. For now, the numbers are relatively low, especially in comparison to western countries, but the fear is that as more people are tested the actual number of infections will be higher. A larger problem is that certain groups are being targeted, and are accused of spreading the virus. These are groups such as refugees, the poor and muslims. This last group in particular is under attack. With the Easter attacks still fresh in Sri Lanka’s memory, people are quicker to evict muslims, fire them and in extreme cases even deny them healthcare. The government and human rights organisations has called on the people to come together, especially in these difficult times.
Government in Sri Lanka takes harsh measures
Another thorn in the side of many human rights activists are the harsh measures taken by the government of Sri Lanka to curb the spread of the coronavirus. There is a curfew and the government monitors very strictly whether it is being followed. The government is even using the army to make sure that nobody is breaking the rules. The government has at multiple times referred to the battle against the coronavirus as a “war”, a word that is still very sensitive with the people of Sri Lanka. It is not so long ago that the country was torn apart by a brutal civil war. The measures taken by the government in trying to control the crisis are thus seen by many as too extreme.
For foreign travellers, the rules are equally strict. Sri Lanka has implemented a complete travel ban for tourists and business travellers that want to come to the country. This also applies to people that have already applied for a Sri Lanka visa. Although the visa normally grants you permission to enter the country, this is no longer the case. Issued visas are temporarily unusable. However, an ETA visa for Sri Lanka is valid for six months. It is currently not clear how long the current coronavirus measures will remain in effect, but there is a chance that a visas with sufficient remaining validity can still be used for a future trip to Sri Lanka.
Take note: the information in this news article can be outdated. Before applying for a visa for Sri Lanka, read all about the current state of affairs regarding the coronavirus in Sri Lanka.