Safety and Security
Newspapers and other sources report ongoing criminal activity around the country, including murder and kidnapping. Most violent crime occurs within the local community, although reports of violent crime and sexual assaults directed at foreigners have been increasing.
The Sri Lankan military continues to maintain a heavy presence in the north, and military roadblocks and checkpoints are commonly encountered when traveling in this region.
Although the government and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) continue operations to locate and dispose of landmines in the north, a number of areas are still mined. Landmines and unexploded ordnance are found in parts of northern and eastern Sri Lanka, especially in the areas north of Vavuniya, including the areas of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaittivu, Mannar and Puthukudiyiruppu (PTK). A map of the affected areas is available. Travelers in these areas should stay on main, heavily traveled roads, and never walk in forested or agricultural areas or in abandoned properties. Travelers should make themselves aware of, and able to recognize and avoid, any area cordoned off for landmine clearance. Travelers should not touch anything that resembles a landmine or unexploded ordnance and should notify local police if they see something that resembles a landmine.
U.S. citizens living or traveling in Sri Lanka should be aware of their personal surroundings and follow prudent security practices. You should avoid political rallies, military bases, military or police convoys, and closed areas of high security zones.
Demonstrations at or near Western embassies and international organizations are not uncommon. There have been recent demonstrations against the United States and United Nations. Some have been large, and on occasion they have become violent. Given the unpredictability of demonstrations, U.S. citizens are urged to exercise caution when demonstrations are announced or reported, and avoid areas where demonstrations are occurring or crowds are forming. Demonstrations can occur with little or no advance notice. U.S. citizens are urged to consult media sources and the U.S. Embassy website for current security information and to enroll with the Embassy to receive e-mail messages or cellular phone short message service (SMS) texts about impending demonstrations in Colombo.
U.S. citizens are encouraged to always carry their U.S. passports while in Sri Lanka. U.S. citizens of Sri Lankan origin may be subject to additional scrutiny upon arrival and while in the country. The activities of visiting journalists, researchers, aid workers, and volunteers may also receive particular attention.