A series of explosions occurred Sunday morning between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. (local time), primarily in the cities of Colombo, Negombo (both on the west coast) and Batticaloa (on the east coast) in Sri Lanka. Three luxury hotels and several churches were targeted in what seems to be a coordinated attack on Easter Sunday. At this time, officials report that approximately 160 people have died and more than 500 people have been injured. The Sri Lankan government has implemented a curfew from 6:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. local time, and it temporarily blocked use of social media.
All IFSA students are accounted for and safe. Today is the first day of a three-week independent study period. Our local program staff in Kandy spoke to each student by phone today. Students were informed of the situation and requested to remain with their host families for the remainder of the day. Our program staff will continue to check-in with the students throughout the day, as well as daily for the remainder of the independent study period.
WHAT IFSA IS DOING
While it may be unsettling to hear such news while your student is studying abroad, please know that we keep close watch on security events in Sri Lanka as well as on all students to help ensure they are aware of their surroundings and environment. Our resident staff do a fantastic job of checking in with the students and providing any information and support that is needed.
Additionally, the local resident staff spend considerable time talking about safety and security with students during the mandatory program orientation at the beginning of the program as well as throughout the semester. Students are given an emergency phone number for our resident staff and our emergency assistance provider that they can call 24/7 in the event of a true emergency.
At this time, IFSA programming will continue as planned. We will continue to closely monitor security events in Sri Lanka, talk with our local program staff and contacts about the security conditions throughout the country, and provide relevant updates as needed.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
If you would like more information about this security event, please see the following media outlets: