The Australian government has tightened the noose on Sri Lankan visa applicants, especially those seeking student visas, in the wake of the ongoing conflict in the country and has also updated its travel advisory to Australian tourists asking them to reconsider the need to visit the country.The Daily Mirror learns the Austrlian High Commission in Colombo has rejected several visa applications from students, mostly Tamil students from the north and east, seeking to enter Australia for higher education purposes on the basis that they may try to stay back illegally.
`I have considered the current economic and political situation in your home country, Sri Lanka and in particular your place of origin,
Manipay which is heavily affected by ongoing conflict. I believe that the current situation in Sri Lanka would act as a significant incentive for you to remain in Australia beyond your proposed period of stay..,` the High Commission said in a letter to one of the applicants from Jaffna, a copy of which was obtained by the Daily Mirror.
Meanwhile the Australian government, in a travel advice on Sri Lanka updated last week, says there is a volatile security situation and very high risk of terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka adding that attacks occur frequently and further attacks can happen at any time, anywhere in Sri Lanka.
The travel advice draws reference to the statement released by the Defence Ministry last week encouraging heightened vigilance by members of the public, citing intelligence reports indicating that the LTTE had deployed vehicle bombs to attack Colombo.
`Attacks could occur at any time and in any place, including infrastructure associated with the Sri Lankan Government such as military establishments, public transport, airports, sea ports, oil depots and public buildings, as well as political offices of anti-LTTE Tamil organisations. Nearby locations could sustain collateral damage. Potentially affected locations also include shopping malls, clubs, hotels, restaurants, bars, movie theatres, schools, places of worship, embassies, tourist areas (including national parks), markets and outdoor recreation areas, major sporting events and religious festivals,` the latest travel advice said.
The Australian government further adds that there has been a significant escalation in the number of serious incidents of politically motivated violence, including in tourist areas in the centre and south of the country and warns that the security situation could deteriorate further without warning.
It also says that due to the on-going conflict, the international airport could be closed without warning and commercial aircraft could be at risk, particularly at night. `In light of the increased threat, some airlines have suspended flights to Colombo or changed flight schedules suspending commercial late night flights. We recommend you contact your airline to confirm flight details.`
The Australian government warns that according to recent reports terrorists may be planning suicide attacks against the headquarters of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) in Sir Chitampalam A Gardiner Mawatha in central Colombo and the main SLAF fighter wing at Katunayake, collocated with Bandaranaike International Airport.