| The UK, Canada and Australia warned their citizens of the Sri Lanka’s new travel restrictions on visiting the North of the island, in updated travel advisories this week.The new restrictions, require all foreign nationals to obtain permission from the Ministry of Defence prior to entering the North. The clearance request is expected to take 2-3 days to process.
The UK’s Foreign Office’s travel advice now states:
“The security forces have imposed restrictions preventing all foreign passport holders (including British nationals) travelling to the Northern Province. All foreign passport holders planning to travel to the north must get prior approval from the Ministry of Defence.
You should send a written request to the following address/fax: Secretary Ministry of Defence & Urban Development (Attn: Military Liaison Officer) 15/5 Baladaksha Mawatha Colombo 3 Fax: +94 11 2328109
Military activities are ongoing.“
Also advising citizens on the travel restrictions to the North, the Australian government warned its citizens to “exercise a high degree of caution”, stating that the security environment was “unpredictable”.
Australia’s current travel advice reads:
“The Ministry of Defence and Urban Development announced on 15 October 2014 that foreign passport holders, including diplomats and international and local non-government organisation personnel, will now require approval to travel to Sri Lanka’s Northern Province. Foreign passport holders intending to visit Northern Province can obtain approval by sending a written request, including relevant details and the purpose of their travel.“
“We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Sri Lanka at this time because of the unpredictable security environment.
“Security forces maintain a visible presence throughout the country. Military and police checkpoints are present along some roads and road closures can occur without warning.“
Also updating its travel advisory, Canada, which has a large Tamil diaspora population, warned its citizens that even those with residence status had been refused permission into the North.
“On October 15, 2014, strict entry restrictions were imposed for all foreigners wishing to travel to Northern Province. Restrictions may be expanded or changed without notice. Permission must be obtained from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence before travelling to this province (see address below). Foreigners, including those with residence status, have been refused access at military checkpoints.“
In April, all three countries cautioned their Tamil citizens over Sri Lanka’s terror laws after the Sri Lankan government proscribed 15 diaspora organisations and over 400 individuals.