As of April 19th 2022, socio-political unrest is escalating in Sri Lanka. Police have used
violent force against protesters in the town of Rambukkana, with at least one person
dead as of the writing of this Early Warning. Protests are occurring in the capital city of
Colombo, with similar scenes emerging elsewhere across the island. The direct cause
for these gatherings is growing discontent with government incompetence and
worsening socio-economic conditions, the latter of which are anchored on soaring fuel
prices, and scarce food and medical supplies.
Various factors such as the global Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have affected the Sri Lankan economy’s ability to gather foreign currency and import commodities such as grain and oil [including its derivatives]. In turn, this has worsened the damage caused by the poor taxation policies of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s administration, which as of the 12th of April 2022 has frozen repayments on Sri Lanka’s outstanding 51 billion USD in foreign debt.
Despite earlier resignations of top government officials, protestors continue to demand the resignation of President Rajapaksa and his remaining political allies, some of which are his family members. While protests in past weeks have been relatively peaceful, due to regular power outages in excess of ten hours around the country and many of Sri Lanka’s poorer communities have been without access to basic food necessities for weeks, agitation levels seem to be climbing.
While foreigners are not a direct target of these protests, it is still advisable for all
visitors and residents of a foreign country to stay clear of any hot spot for civil gatherings.
Additionally, it is advised to carry documentation on one's person in the event police checkpoints are set up in the coming hours, days, and even weeks. On that same note, it is important to follow any new rules implemented by the local authorities, such as curfews.
Depending on how quickly this situation escalates, it may be harder to enter/leave Sri
Lanka in the short term. If in doubt, contact your embassy/consulate for the latest advice.
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