Sri Lanka announced Saturday that it was reopening its borders to international travelers. Restrictions that had been placed on the country by the Colombo high court last week were removed as of midnight, foreign media reports. The high court was in session during the operation, and the return of the borders seems to have been approved on Friday evening in a bid to help clear airspace around the city. Officials had been given until Saturday to open international passport offices. While authorities were unclear about the number of travelers allowed into the country, they said they were expecting an immediate surge. Meanwhile, people in the nation’s capital were unsparing in their criticism of the foreign visitors who stood at the ready to assist refugees returning from Vanni, the country’s Tamil-majority region in the north of the country. Located near the borders with India and India’s Tamil Nadu state, Vanni has seen nearly 250,000 residents flee since government forces destroyed Tamil militias and defeated the Tigers (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) in 2009. And two-thirds of the population in Vanni is still displaced from their homes, and numerous thousands are in need of food and shelter. The BBC notes that the authorities also extended a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the capital city by two hours. The state daily, Ceylon Today, suggested that some of the international arrivals were actually “traffickers,” and wondered how they would be allowed into Sri Lanka if they did not apply for a visa.
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