Sri Lanka Lifts Ban on Foreigners Visiting Former War Zones

Posted July 5th, 2011 at 9:55 am (UTC-5)
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Sri Lanka has lifted travel restrictions that barred foreigners from visiting former war zones in the Tamil-dominated north of the country, two years after the government defeated Tamil rebels in a three-decade long conflict.

The Sri Lankan government said Monday it removed the restrictions on foreign passport holders with immediate effect. Colombo had barred international journalists, foreign tourists and aid workers from visiting northern Sri Lanka during the civil war and maintained restrictions after the conflict ended in May 2009.

Human rights groups said the travel bans had prevented them from getting independent information about rights violations allegedly committed by Sri Lankan government forces and Tamil rebels in the final stages of the civil war.

Colombo is trying to attract foreign visitors to northern Sri Lanka as part of a plan to boost tourism in the region and raise money for post-war reconstruction.