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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2610

British High Commission in Colombo declares 'traveling to Sri Lanka safe'

By Munza Mushtaq – Reporting from Colombo for Asian Tribune

Colombo, 20 May, (Asiantribune.com): The British High Commission in Sri Lanka has emphasized that their country has not enforced a travel ban against their citizens traveling here to Sri Lanka, but has only cautioned their nationals against traveling to the North and East unless the trip was 'entirely essential'.

Addressing a news conference in Colombo yesterday, John Culley, the High Commission's Second Secretary in charge of political and public diplomacy disclosed that on an average about 100,000 British nationals travel to Sri Lanka for holiday, business and other purposes and this number is growing.

"We find traveling to Sri Lanka relatively safe other than to the North and East provinces," he reiterated.

Mr. Culley stressed that the Travel Advisory on Sri Lanka, which was updated on May 18, 2006 by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office, contains brief descriptions of significant security incidents such as the attacks, which injured two UK tourists. He also ssured that such advisory was a standard procedure and such notices are issued to all countries in the world from Albania to Zimbabwe.

The local travel segment of the Sri Lankan Travel Advisory states, "we advice against all but essential travel to the North or East of Sri Lanka, because of the ongoing insecurity. This applies to all areas of the North including Jaffna peninsula, the whole of the Eastern districts of Batticaloa, Trincomalee and coastal areas of Ampara district north of Pottuvil.

There continue to be fatal incidents throughout the North and East. Civilians including foreigners have been caught up in the violence.

Much of the North and East of Sri Lanka remains heavily land mined, particularly around the A9 road from Vavuniya to Jaffna. You may be denied entry to these areas by Governmental and LTTE checkpoints, which regulate entry into and out of the LTTE controlled areas in the North and East."

The Advisory also noted that a state of emergency was declared by the Sri Lanka Government in August 2005. This gives wide discretionary powers, including setting up of checkpoints. You are strongly advised to comply with Government and security force instructions. You should follow local developments closely, be aware of your surroundings and alert to changing situations.

Voting for local elections will take place on May 20, 2006, in Colombo and some other districts. The results will be announced on May 20 and 21, 2006. Avoid political gatherings or demonstrations.

- Asian Tribune -

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