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UK reinstates warning against travel to Sri Lanka

BBC News logo BBC News 05/07/2022
Holidaymakers are advised against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka © Getty Images Holidaymakers are advised against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka

The UK government is advising against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka as a severe economic crisis has sparked civil unrest.

The warning has been reinstated after it was previously lifted on 10 June.

A shortage of basic necessities including medicines, cooking gas, fuel and food has sparked protests and violence in the Asian country.

Sri Lanka's government said it only had enough petrol to last one day as it faces its worst crisis in 70 years.

The popular tourist destination ended a state of emergency on 21 May after nearly two weeks of government powers being extended to curb demonstrations.

But on Sunday, the nation said it was struggling to raise the money to pay for fuel shipments to tackle shortages, raising $125m (£104.5m) out of the $587m (£491m) needed.

The Foreign Office warned holidaymakers could encounter "demonstrations, roadblocks and violent unrest at short notice".

The Sri Lankan government blames the Covid pandemic for the crisis, which affected the country's tourist trade - one of its biggest foreign currency earners.

Nearly 200,000 Britons travelled to Sri Lanka in 2019, but this figure dipped to 55,455 in 2020.

But Sri Lanka's government exacerbated its foreign currency shortage in 2021, when it banned imports of chemical fertiliser.

Widespread crop failure forced the country to import food from abroad, compounding its foreign currency crisis.

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